Doesn't a nice cheese tart seem like the perfect thing for a Medieval feast?
Got it? Luckily for those of us who aspire to actually try these dishes out, there are many translations of these old texts available in print and online. According to Gode Cookery, while the recipe title - Tart de Bry - seems to imply that the tart should be made of brie, in fact the "cheese ruayn" referred to in the recipe is actually rowan cheese, also known as autumn cheese, a semi-soft cheese that's not quite as soft as modern brie. Oh - and as far as I can determine, it doesn't actually exist anymore.
So I used a combination of St. Andre, a brie that's soft, but not so soft that you can't cut it up, and Cana de Cabra, another soft-but-not-too-soft cheese. Fortunately the other ingredients - sugar, saffron, ginger, and egg yolks - didn't require any sleuthing or substituting. The resulting flavor, while quite good, does require a slight shift in what I think of as the mental palette; in other words, this does not taste exactly as you might expect a modern cheese tart to taste. It's sort of like when you think you're going to take a sip of water, but it turns out that the glass is actually full of 7-Up. Hey, I like 7-Up, but if I'm expecting water, that first sip is mildly shocking.
As for the tart crust, I just did a simple whole wheat, spelt, and AP flour mixture. Not the most authentically ancient crust perhaps, but the whole wheat and spelt did give it a rustic flavor. But feel free to use your favorite tart crust recipe - I think you'll find that the filling is surprising enough on its own. Gode Cookery decided to be very medieval and not supply any amounts, so I made it up and (luckily!) it worked.
Tart de Bry
1 tart crust (see below)
10-12 ounces of semi-soft cheese, such as brie, that's not too soft - you want to be able to cut it into tiny pieces
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
3 egg yolks
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
For the tart crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
pinch of salt
Combine the dry ingredients, add the liquid and mix until the dough is firm. Allow to rest in the refrigerator while you mix your tart filling ingredients. (I actually parbaked my crust, but in hindsight, I don't think it was at all necessary.)
For the filling, allow the saffron threads to soak in a 1/2 tsp of warm water for about 5 minutes. Next, mix the egg yolks and saffron (with the water) together. Add the cheese and spices, whisk until smooth and pour into the crust (which you've rolled out and put in your tart pan):
But then it flattens out a bit, which I will admit I found a little disappointing at first:
Fluffy or flat, this tart is really rich, which isn't all that surprising considering that it is primarily made of eggs and incredibly rich cheese. This would be a very interesting addition to a holiday meal - and I assure you, a little goes a very long way.
Have fun making brie tarts, and I'll see you tomorrow for Day 3!