Ása’s Peeres in Confyt and ‘Snowe’ Cream

Ása’s Peeres in Confyt and ‘Snowe’ Cream

As part of the TUA feast, we were given the opportunity to make a gluten-free dessert for those in the populace who couldn’t enjoy the apple strudel that Mistress Joan from Borealis made.

Ása decided to go with a recipe for pears poached in red wine. This is a classic dessert which is still really popular in England and the Commonwealth today, but it has its origins in the Forme of Cury – a 14th century English cookbook put together by King Richard II’s cooks. We refer to this cookbook often, so I guess he had good taste! 
The recipe, as it is described in the Forme of Cury (transcribed by Samuel Pegge in 1780) is: 
“PEERES IN CONFYT. XX.VI. XII. Take peeres and pare hem clene. take gode rede wyne & mulberes oþer saundres and seeþ þe peeres þerin & whan þei buth ysode, take hem up, make a syryp of wyne greke. oþer vernage with blaunche powdour oþer white sugur and powdour gyngur & do the peres þerin. seeþ it a lytel & messe it forth.”
There’s an excellent redaction available on the website Medieval Cookery, but Ása’s redaction is a little different and a little more modern. We served these with a ‘snowe’ cream. 
As there were a few children and adults who were gluten-intolerant and couldn’t have alcohol, Ása also made a few pears in a simple syrup. These were equally popular! 

Ása’s Peeres in Confyt

5 pears (Bartlett or Anjou)
6 cups red wine
4 cups sugar
Zest of an orange
2 sticks of cinnamon
1-2 T whole cloves
A knob of peeled ginger root 
1/2 cup of honey 
Peel your pears and cut them in half lengthwise. With a spoon or paring knife, cut or scoop out the inedible core of each pear half. In a large pot, set all other ingredients to boil. Place the pears in the boiling wine mixture and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the pears are soft enough to be cut with the press of a fork or a spoon. Remove the pears from the wine and set aside to cool. 
Continue to boil the red wine mixture until it becomes a thick syrup. Strain while hot, then bottle. 
To serve, place half a pear in the center of a plate or bowl, top with a generous dollop of ‘snowe’ or whipped cream, and drizzle with the reduced syrup. Makes 10 servings. 

*For a non-alcoholic version, simply replace the red wine with water. 

‘Snowe’ Cream 

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 T rose water***
1-2 T icing sugar
Snowe comes up a few times in English Renaissance cookbooks, and usually includes egg whites. I’m not comfortable serving raw egg whites to a large number of feastgoers, my skills at tempering them are not good enough for me to be certain they’d be safe, and I think the texture might put off some less keen feastgoers. Therefore, I decided to simply flavor some regular whipping cream with a little rose water to give folks the impression of snowe without the risk. 
Combine all in a bowl and whisk (hand or electric.) 
***You must be very careful with rose water! The concentration can range widely depending on which brand you buy. Test, test, and test again. Start by adding a tiny amount, then add more if necessary. Rose water can absolutely destroy a recipe if you slip and add too much! 
Until next time!

– Alice Percy

2 Comments

I was chatting with some mundane friends, and even THEY now want to come to culinary night, based solely on my description of this dessert. They were very sad to find out it's not just a given part of the evening's menu…

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