Cheese Castle Subtlety

I’ve been on a journey of subtlety making.

This is a rendition of the Castle Subtlety in Pleyn Delit which in turn is based on the Forme of Curye’s recipe to make a castle.

Forme of Curye’s Receipe

Take and make a foyle of gode past with a roller of a foot brode. & lyngur by cumpas. make iiii Coffyns of þe self past uppon þe rolleres þe gretnesse of þe smale of þyn Arme. of vi ynche depnesse. make þe gretust in þe myddell. fasten þe foile in þe mouth upwarde. & fasten þee oþere foure in euery syde. kerue out keyntlich kyrnels above in þe manere of bataiwyng and drye hem harde in an Ovene. oþer in þe Sunne. In þe myddel Coffyn do a fars of Pork with gode Pork & ayrenn rawe wiþ salt. & colour it wiþ safroun and do in anoþer Creme of Almandes. and helde it in anoþer creme of Cowe mylke with ayrenn. colour it with saundres. anoþur manur. Fars of Fygur. of raysouns. of Apples. of Peeres. & holde it in broun. anoþer manere. do fars as to frytours blanched. and colour it with grene. put þis to þe ovene & bake it wel. & serue it forth with ew ardaunt.

In present day English: 

Take and make a foyle of good pastry [foyles as in paper, i.e. sheets of pastry as thin as paper] with a roll a foot long and longer in proportion. Make four coffins [pastry cases] from the same pastry, with the roll the width of the small of your arm, and six inches deep. Make the biggest one in the middle. Fasten the pastry sheets at the mouth upwards. And fasten your other four [sic] on every side. Quaintly carve out keyntlich [battlements] above in the manner of embattling, and dry them until they’re hard in an oven or in the sun. In the middle coffin, do a mixture of pork with good pork and raw egg with salt. And colour it with saffron and do another crème of almonds, and put in the other cream of cow’s milk with egg. Colour it with sandlewood. Another manner – meat of figs, raisons, apples and pears and make it brown. Another manner – do the meat as you would for blanched fritters and colour it with green. Put this into the oven and bake it well. And serve it with hot water.

Translation from the British Library




Okay so firstly, I made the pastry as per Pleyn Delit’s instructions. (Recipe 140)


It became a slightly more cheesy lard pastry. Recipe doesn’t say anything about putting it in the fridge so let’s carry on, although I did put it aside while I prepared the foundations of the castle towers.
I used an old roll which fabric had come home on. (I….have a lot of these…. but the recipe also says that al. foil rolls or wrapping paper rolls would also work.) I cut four sections and the rolls ended up being about 15cm high and about a 5cm diameter.

I wrapped the rolls in al. foil and then greased the foil with butter. Next time I will use more butter.

I rolled out the pastry into about 5mm and rolled it into roughly rectangular shapes that I thought would fit on the roll. (I had to make a second batch of the recipe, I think I made them too big.)

Then I wrapped the pastry around the rolls and tried to make them roughly even.I ended up making them a bit base heavy and they didn’t need to be in the end. The pastry got pricked with a fork because it does rise a little bit.

This is the first lot. I ended up making the walls later with a second batch of pastry.


Walls. You can also see on the top left one that I haven’t pricked it with the fork enough so it’s formed a bubble.


Baked until brown, about 20 minutes.


Original walls were too small, they got super brown. The recipe tastes kind of like cheese biscuits. So that was cool.


Anyway, eventually walls and towers were ready.
I found that when it came to unstick the towers, it was easiest to pull the rolls out without the al. foil and the remove the al. foil separately. Would have been easier to remove in one lot if they had been the thinner rolls found in wrapping paper etc. Or if I’d used more butter in the greasing.

Before towers were squared off with knife. I don’t actually think they did slump that much when baking, I think this is just me.
I squared up the walls and towers with a bread knife. The pastry (when freshly baked) was firm (slightly crumbly) but was able to withstand the serrated edge knife enough to give an even enough cut. (Any unevenness was my bad at this point because of impatience)


Fiddling with how the walls and towers should be positioned.

I cut slices of a cheap brie cheese off, so that it was thin slices of rind with brie, microwaved them for ten second and used the melty goodness as a mortar to stick the walls and towers together. I could have done a better job here. The towers were uneven so there was some guess work in making them more stable and finding the best place to put the walls so that they were together as much as possible.


It was actually pretty easy to use the cheese as a mortar and it held together pretty well. The main issue was that the towers and wall edges, despite surgery with bread knife, were not perfectly in alignment with each other, which I think is something I could get better at with practice. I would also make the towers stick out more next time but I was worried about the positioning of the towers and the walls and their relative straightness. But, it still looks a look like Welsh Castles so….

I also deconstructed the tower, wrapped it up put it in the fridge and then reconstructed with fresh brie cheese two days later and it held up to that really well. Walls and tower were softer than they were when freshly baked but still very edible. It goes extremely well with the cheese, and I think that for a feast I would bring it out at the start, with additional bread, cheese, pickles and other antipasto type feast starters and let it be broken down and eaten with the cheese.




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Apple Tart

One of my more popular recipes is the Apple Tart, redacted from Forme of Curye.

 Apple Tart – Forme of Curye

Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd with Safron wel and do yt in a cofyn and yt forth to bake wel.





  • 3 large Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 pears
  • handful of currants
  • handful of raisins
  • 4 dried figs
  • tea spoon of cinnamon
  • 2 pinches ginger

Shortcrust recipe for food processor from


  • 1 food processor
  • Muffin/tart pans
  • oven
  • knife


I needed to make 3x this recipe.


Make the shortcrust recipe ahead of time and put in fridge.

Peel apples and pears and quarter them. Quarter the figs. Put it all (plus raisins and currants) in a food processor and whizz until blended. Add cinnamon and ginger and stir.

Take shortcrust out, roll it out and make tart cases out of them into the tart pan. Spoon out mixture into tart cases (Adding two beaten eggs into the mixture and stirring it in well will make the mixture hold together better when it comes out. But I often use this as a vegetarian option and in tart form it doesn’t need the eggs so I leave it out) and put in the oven for about 30 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius until the pastry is cooked.

Things that you might not know to ask me but you should

Granny smith apples? Seriously?

Yup. They are often the cheapest apple for the size. I actually found that any apple would do although different apples do change the taste slightly. I would try to either aim for a large apple or two smaller apples. I don’t know what the most accurate apple would be. I would just use whatever apple you like the most.

What kind of pears?

Corella pears are supposed to be the closest approximation to medieval pears. They are firm and on the small side. Again, any pear will do. (Ratio is about 2:1 apple to pear)


The recipe doesn’t say anything about currants…..

No it does not! However, I make this dish, for the most part, alongside a bunch of other dishes and some of those dishes do call for currants. And then I have currants left over. And that made me sad, so I added them to the pie. I think they work pretty well.

Can I use fresh figs?

Probably. See “because they are the cheapest option” for why I use dried though. (You can rehyrdate dried figs by putting them in boiling water for a minute or two. I generally don’t bother. They go in a food processor and then go whizz.)

Why a food processor?

Laziness mostly. wel ybrayed means ground, according to people who actually know this kind of thing and I did NOT have the patience to grind apples, pears and figs in a mortar and pestle. So into the food processor they go. You get this kind of brown mush once the apple and pears start to oxidase.

I don’t see the saffron in the recipe mentioned

No, it’s not. I have made several variations of Apple tarts over the years and what I found was that I wasn’t seeing the colour that they talk about, nor was the delicate taste of saffron coming through in the fruit. (I used up to 12 strands) So I chose, rather than to grind more saffron in a mortar and pestle with water until the colour and taste did come through, to just forgo it. Since I wasn’t seeing the taste or colour anyway, it didn’t seem to matter much. I would guess this is due to using modern apples and pears which possible have more taste and oxidase faster than 14th century English ones did.

Why tarts?

So, once upon a time, I made fruit pies as pies. In a big 6″ tin, pastry went down, mixture on top, into the oven. But, it’s a very wet mix. Possibly a result of the food processor. Anyway, I would precook these pies a couple days before and bring them to the event and the puff or shortcrust pastry would get soggy at the bottom. They would be hard to eat, since they basically had to be spooned into a bowl and then eaten with a spoon. So I switched to shortcrust and to tarts. And that has worked very well from the perspective that now they all get eaten as people can pick them up and eat them with their fingers and without a bowl.

Why cinnamon and ginger?

They are commonly used spices in 14th century England and go well with fruit.




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We’re excited about wafers.

Our skilled blacksmith Richard, of Keystone Forge, made us a wafer iron based on an extant one and at Rowany Festival, we tried it out.


I had previously looked up wafer receipes before (Le Menagier de Paris lists 4, 2 without cheese) but we ended up trying it with The Medieval Kitchen’s version The Medieval Kitchen.

The Medieval Kitchen’s version is a basic one – flour, sugar and chilled water. (I looked this up, apparently it’s to stop the fat from melting? Must learn more)

So first step, heating the iron. We (Richard) started a fire and then held the iron over the flames. I estimated we held it over the flames for about 3 minutes, flipping the irons over after 2.

We really should have had oil, but we had butter. So we opened the irons and spread the butter with a spoon. The irons were hot enough that the butter immediately began to sizzle. The irons then went back into the fire.


The mix was then added to the irons. First thing that went wrong. I did not add enough of the batter to the irons in the first go and had to scoop more in. This caused the irons to get colder. The result was a kind of rubbery not golden brown and it wouldn’t get golden brown.


Second batch, we used a little less butter, with just the bottom waffle pattern being greased, used a ladle to scoop as much in as possible as fast as possible and bamn. Waffle turned out to be a little more golden. The pattern didn’t come out as well but there wasn’t enough butter to fill the irons.


Tips we were given by Mistress Rowan

  • Brush oil on quickly and pour batter in while irons are still hot.
  • Have a rest for the iron to sit on as you want to be able to reproduce the results.
  • Sugar burns easily so for learning, a receipe without sugar is best.


Le Menagier de Paris Translation by Janet Hinson

Waffles[127] are made in four ways. In the first, beat eggs in a bowl, then salt and wine, and add flour, and moisten the one with the other, and then put in two irons little by little, each time using as much batter as a slice of cheese is wide, and clap between two irons, and cook one side and then the other; and if the iron does not easily release the batter, anoint with a little cloth soaked in oil or fat. – The second way is like the first, but add cheese, that is, spread the batter as though making a tart or pie, then put slices of cheese in the middle, and cover the edges (with batter: JH); thus the cheese stays within the batter and thus you put it between two irons. – The third method, is for dropped waffles, called dropped only because the batter is thinner like clear soup, made as above; and throw in with it fine cheese grated; and mix it all together. – The fourth method is with flour mixed with water, salt and wine, without eggs or cheese.

Item, waffles can be used when one speaks of the “large sticks” which are made of flour mixed with eggs and powdered ginger beaten together, and made as big as and shaped like sausages; cook between two irons.


Wafers are also extensively mentioned throughout the translation in the menu and quantities listed. Are they different? I’m not sure.


Pictures to come later.


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