Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 2: Tart de Bry, a Medieval Brie Tart

Doesn't a nice cheese tart seem like the perfect thing for a Medieval feast?

What could be simpler? According to the fourteenth-century recipe collection Forme of Cury, all you have to do is, "Take a crust ynche deepe in a trap. Take yolkes of ayren rawe & cheese ruayn & medle it & pe yolkes togyder."

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):
Bake in a 375 degree oven - I mean cauldron - until it sets, about 25-30 minutes. The top will puff up while it cooks:
Fresh out of the oven it looks like this:
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!


  1. Beautiful tart. And love the new masthead, and your Tasty Trix cooking wench design!

  2. Dear girl, you made me LOL with that "gibberish" quotation at the beginning! Why should you be disappointed at all? It looks just so pretty and golden!

  3. Looks pretty! And I'm a fan of anything with cheese. :)

  4. Great post..I am not into cheese much...but this looks awesome..and what a great way to start a post too..fourteenth century cooking tip!

  5. This is over the top you are amazing with the information on these posts blowing me away, keep them interesting, of course not to mention I love the brie also and this is gorgeous, geeshcheese love this!!!! Great little stories to go along with this and cute beginnings...did you live back then in another life? I would be interested to hear how you got interested in that time period, as I love time travel.....very well done ms trix!

  6. really love how you put it all together and tell the story of these recipes - funny how old recipes can be adapted to today...with a lot of work - thanks Trix

  7. Cool! Delicious with St. Andre, one of our all-time favorites! LOL about the "recipe" from the 14-century cookbook, love it!

  8. i love me some brie tarts ;) and i didn't know it used to be spelled 'bry'. is that in English or also in French?

  9. Medieval people knew how to eat... it looks delicious!

  10. The picture on FG brought me here... and I love the ancient cook books... translating is sooo much fun...not!!! Different people offer different translations... somethings no one knows for sure... you've got to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out ! That said, I enjoyed making hippocras from the Forme of Cury and now this cheese tart looks wonderful for the holidays. Thanks for the great post!

  11. I love brie! But I wonder if this could be done with feta? :) That would make me very happy! hehe Seeing your pics just makes me want to reach right into the screen and grab some. Oh and I love to learn about food so the fish dishes will be educational for me! :D

  12. Day 2 was just as fun as Day 1! I love all things cheese... Can't wait to see what's no the menu for today! :)

  13. Oh! That is lovely. I love cheese so this is up my alley.

  14. @vegetablematter - Thanks! Poppa Trix made the logo!
    @ju: I love the old English too, it's fun!
    @tastyeats, @citronetvanille, @chowandchatter, @jeroxie, @andrea, @miriam, @5 star foodie: thanks! yes, those ancients sure could feast, huh? i too love cheese, maybe a little too much. @ jhonny walker - maybe this will bring you over to the dark side of dairy!
    @sanjana: I think you could make a delicious pie with feta, but I don't think it has the right consistency to beat together with the other ingredients in this recipe somehow.
    @lostpast: I considered making hippocras, it sounds divine! but i went with clarrey instead, also delish.
    @brie: that is a good question, i'm not sure but it does seem that forme of cury writes it as "Bry," so i suspect that either that's a medieval anglicized spelling, or brie was bry in medieval french. but a real expert would know better i'm sure!
    @pegasuslegend: i really love history - i used to be obsessed with anything regency because of jane austen, but it's all fascinating to me, esp food history and culture ... maybe next time i can do a regency feast?
    @drick: i am so glad you are enjoying this! it's been so fun to research.

  15. Yum! I think this would be a huge crowdpleaser appetizer, although I could probably eat the whole thing by myself..