Tart in Ymber Day – Redaction

Another one of our popular recipes, this cheese and onion pie is an excellent vegetarian (as long as they eat eggs) addition to our menus. Also, by cooking it in a pie dish without pastry, it becomes gluten free. So efficiencies all around for cooking.

173. Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

– Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). 


Take and parboile Oynouns presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. take brede & bray it in a morter. and temper it up with Ayren. do þerto butter, safroun and salt. & raisouns corauns. & a litel sugur with powdour douce. and bake it in a trape. & serue it forth.

[1] Ymbre. Ember.



Forme of Curye was a very popular cook book and several different manuscripts exist of the 14th century english cook book. These are two of the receipes for tart in Ymber day that I have found. I’m sure there are plenty of others


Our redaction

Making 6 tarts

500g of cottage cheese

13 medium brown onions (2 x 1kg pack of onions)

Small handful of fresh thyme

small handful of fresh sage

8 eggs 7 eggs

Small handful of raisins

small handful of currants

1 tbs of cinnamon

1 tbs sugar

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground dried ginger

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

pinch of ground pepper

2 pinches of saffron

Pastry to make pies (I like shortcrust because it’s easy and keeps well)



First, top and tail the onions and peel their skin off. Put them in a pot so that the water covers the onions. Bruise the thyme and sage and add to the pot. Bring the pot to a simmer and then simmer the onions for twenty minutes. Or, forget about the onions while you do something else and let them boil for half an hour. It’s fine.

Anyway, while the onions are cooking, grind the cottage cheese to a smooth paste. If you’ve purchased cheap no name cottage cheese from the supermarket, this will be really easy because it’s basically already a smooth paste. Otherwise, food processor is your friend. For this entire recipe actually.

Drain the onions into the sink and cool them down with cold water. Make sure that they are cold because trying to chop onions which are still hot will only cause you pain. Learn from my mistakes. Just let the onions cool down. Also, chopping boiled onions is just awful. They’re slimy and gross and constantly move around under your hands. So I put them in the food processor and “hew them small” that way.

Add the eggs to the cottage cheese. I feel like 8 was too many eggs. Add 7 eggs to the cottage cheese. Mix together. Add the raisins, currants, sugar and spices. Before adding the saffron, put the saffron in a mortar and pestle or a small bowl and add a table spoon of warm water. mix this with the saffron and you’ll see the yellow saffron colour start to permeate the water. This will help the yellow colour of the saffron come out through the pie.

Mix that all up well.

Take your preprepared pastry, line the pie trays with it, and blind bake. Blind baking will stop the bottom from getting as soggy. It’s a wet mix, it’s likely to still get a little soggy anyway. Trust me, it will taste way better than it looks at this point.

Put the pies through the oven for twenty minutes at 180 celsius, or until the top is firm and no longer wet.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate until time to eat.





Frequently asked questions

What is ember day?


Basically it’s a fast day. This is a pie to make for when you can’t eat meat.

A small handful is not an actual measurement.

Nope, it’s better. I find it easier to cook by just grabbing a handful. You can substitute 30 grams though for for the dried fruit, and 3 sprigs for the herbs

Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh?

Yes, call it 2 tablespoons for each when you used dried.

Can I use pre ground spices instead of freshly ground?

Yes, no difference.

Bake it in a Trap?

I believe that a trap refers to a pie dish that has another pie dish on top, which “traps” the pastry within in, and is cooked by placing it in the coals and piling coals on top of the dish.  It’s clearly a pie dish of some description. It could also refer to covering the pie with a pastry lid? I’m not exactly sure.

Why is this recipe done for six pies?

Because we generally don’t make less than six pies when we cook this receipe? Also I am lazy, this is how we made it for an event and I’m just transcribing what we did. But you could just cut it in sixths, except for the fruit, sugar and spices, which you should just cut by half.

You forgot the butter.

Eh, I don’t think it really adds anything to the dish. Maybe a little bit of richness but it’s not necessary. It’s already a pretty wet mix.


Pies in photos were cooked by Dianne Melville and Roxanne McDonald.

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