Pastry News

Many thanks to OutaSpaceman for drawing to my attention this splendid dinner party suggestion, culled from Seven Centuries Of English Cooking by Maxime De La Falaise:

To delight and amaze your guests make the likeness of a ship from a coarse pastry. Add flags and streamers of marzipan with such holes and trains of gun powder that they may all take fire at once. Place your ship on a platter with salt all about it as if at sea. Upon the next platter have a stag made from coarse pastry with a long arrow out of the side of him and his body filled with red wine… In the last platter build a castle with battlements, gates and drawbridges made of pastry and cannons made of marzipan. Inside fill with gunpowder and also let trains of gun powder come out over its walls in all directions. Upon the moat place egg shells filled with rosewater. Place the castle at a distance to the ship so that each may fire upon the other with your guests at the dining table in between…

Next to the stag place a pie made of pastry in which there be live frogs and in another live birds. Make the pies thusly of a coarse pastry filled with bran. Bake them and decorate with gold-gilded bay leaves. The pies being baked, make a hole in the bottom and take out the bran. Put in living frogs and birds and close up again with pastry…

After your guests are seated, fire the trains of powder off the castle so all the pieces of its sides may go off. Now fire the powder trains about the ship so as to make a battle. To sweeten the stink of gun powder let the ladies take the eggshells full of rose water and throw them at each other. Your guests shall suppose all dangers are over by this time. Now order some of the ladies to pluck the arrow out of the stag so that the claret will flow like blood coming from a wound… Now let them see what is in the pies. Lift off the lid of one pie and out come the frogs which makes the ladies skip and shriek. Next open the other pie which frees the birds who by instinct shall fly at the light and will put out the candles. In total darkness with flying birds and skipping frogs the one above and the other beneath there will be much delight and pleasure to the company…

One thought on “Pastry News

  1. Reading this, I cannot help but think that today’s pastry-craft is but a pale, limp-wristed, feckless shadow of the titanic pastry creations of the past. What is a mere pie compared to the “frog surprise”.

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