Formed Fish

Formed Fish

39. 40.
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Montengarde Culinary Group’s April theme is April Fools. My wife (Kayleigh de Leis) is cooking for it this month and she asked me to find the apple pie in the shape of a fish recipe we had been meaning to make for so long.

For this we’re going to the Netherlands via Gent KANTL 15 also known as Nyeuwen Coock Boeck from 1560. Many thanks to Christianne Muusers the person behind Coquinaria for translating the recipe.

1.63. To make stuffing for formed fish when it is not Lent
For four ground apples, take two or three raw eggs, two ground cooked eggs, a small handfull of ground almonds and some melted butter. Take spices, sugar and a little saffron as follows. With this stuff the formed fish and then colour it and let it bake in the oven for about half an hour.

1.64. To make formed fish during lent and also calf ears
Crush in a mortar five or six apples, peeled and cored. Add sugar, ginger and cinnamon, and add some pound almonds or toasted gingerbread with some saffron. Bake this in oil. Or make a big fish: bake this in the oven, painted and with some holes in it.

Seems simple enough, it’s an apple pie in the shape of a fish. Lets grab another apple pie recipe from the same period and country to back us up.

Het eerste gedrukte Nederlandsche kookboek, Brussel, Thomas vander Noot (early 16c.)

Apple tarts. Take apples which are best for cooking until they fall apart. You shall peel these and cut them small. But watch that no seeds or pieces of core fall in, because the seeds would taint the whole tart. When the apples are cut up thus in small pieces, so you shall fill the crust of the same tart up to the top all full. Then you shall make a lid from the same dough that the tart is made from. Then put them in the oven and let them bake thus. When they are baked so you shall take them out and cut a hole in the lid, so that the lid stays only as a ring around the edge. Then you shall stir with a wooden spoon  until all the apples which lie in the tart are well broken up. Or if one wants, one may pass them through a sieve. Then one shall take these following spices and mix them therewith, to wit: grains of paradise, ginger, cinnamon, nutmegs, cloves, mace, and potsugar. But those who want to make this same tart very delicious take as well soft sugar cakes and also sugar which one uses for making cakes. And one shall stir this together with cream; then one shall put it in the tart with the apples and let it stand to dry in the oven until it is dry.

Not that dissimilar to the previous one, other than cutting open and the lid and stirring the mixture. Though the option for stirring in cream is interesting. But the original recipe having the apples diced small should make up for not cutting open the pie mid cooking.

Adding to this, from the same Het eerste gedrukte Nederlandsche kookboek are two recipes for pastry:

To make good pies. Take flour and make dough from it and put therein eggs or fat in order that the crust of the pie will be short.

and

More pies. Take butter, eggs, flour, warm water and make therefrom dough of everything that was mentioned before

Similar to my coffin recipe, but slightly different. We’re still using butter, egg, and flour, but this time we’re using warm water as well. I also like this recipe better than the hot water pastry recipe from Gent KANTL 15:

2.89a The dough one makes for pie:
one sifts meal into boiling water and adds some butter.

I generally find hot water pastries too tough and prefer crusts with more fat, much like the two earlier dutch recipes.

With that said, here’s the recipe recreation.

 

Pastry Recipe Recreation:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter in chunks
  • 3/4 cup warm water (not boiling)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch salt
  1. cut butter into flour until blended
  2. beat together yolks & water
  3. slowly mix the egg mixture into the flour until dough sticks together, add water as needed (I’m a fan of the “wet hands” method)
  4. divide in two
  5. flatten each piece
  6. two options:
    1. wrap in slightly greased light cloth, set aside somewhere cool for one – three hours (period)
    2. wrap in plastic wrap, chill for three hours or overnight in fridge (non-period)
  7. roll out dough

Filling Recipe Recreation:

Now as interesting as it would be to make the recipe with hard boiled eggs in it I’m going to pass this time and make the version for lent.

  • four apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • pinch saffron
  • pie dough
  • egg wash
  1. form 1/2 of pie dough into fish shape
  2. blind bake at 425 for 15 minutes (optional)
  3. grind saffron and a small amount of sugar in your mortar
  4. add ginger and cinnamon, grind
  5. mix with remaining sugar and almonds
  6. dice apples small
  7. toss with spice mix
  8. fill pie crust with apples
  9. cover with remaining dough, cut small holes in top, brush with egg wash
  10. bake at 375 for 30-50 minutes until top crust is golden brown

Kayleigh did an amazing job making the fish. The “scales” created the vents for the pie.

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Here’s a shot of the half eaten pie. My original recreation had the bottom crust blind baked too long so it stuck to the cookie sheet. If you use a baking stone it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve adjusted the recreation, and Kayleigh says that blind baking probably isn’t necessary.

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