A Wolf for Dinner

To celebrate the eagerly anticipated (by me at least) arrival of Wolf Hall to our screens tonight, I have snuffled out some Tudor recipes for you to try and munch on, whilst watching the BBC do what it does best.


Cookery books were starting to emerge during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, however many people during this time would have been unable to read, and so recipes were passed down largely by word of mouth and hands-on teaching. Methods of heating food would have been temperamental and unique to each kitchen, so cooks needed to be skilled in managing the quirks of their own equipment – a tradition that was still evident in my Grandma’s methods of cooking even fairly recently. Measurements and scales were little used, and again cooks would have known the quantities of ingredients specific to their own recipes, judged using bowls, jugs and dishes.

What you ate depended largely on who you were. Certain ingredients, such as spices and sugar were very expensive, and so recipes making lavish use of these items were probably not for Mr and Mrs Joe Blogge, but rather the wealthier echelons of society.

All in all Tudor cooks were pretty clever cookies (excuse the pun), with an extensive set skills and a wealth of learned knowledge gleaned from untold hours of laborious preparation. Thankfully someone had the foresight to write some of these wonderful recipes down and the below are all taken from ‘A Proper New Booke of Cookery’, published in 1575 (technically making it Elizabethan, but we’re all friends here).

I just love the phrasing in some of these instructions, it’s so friendly. I’ve tried to not make too many amendments to the text, because interpeting and understanding the language is half the fun of historical documents. I have however added a few pointers in brackets and broken up the sentence structure slightly for ease.

So, here are some of my favourite recipes: Pigeon Pie, Chicken Pie, Apple Pie, A Dishful of Snow and finally Eggs in Moonshine (I know, too sweet isn’t it?)

To bake pigeons in short paste (pastry) as you make to your baken Apples.

Season your Pigeons with Pepper, Saffron, Cloves and Mace, with veriuyce (a sour, acidic fruit juice of unripe grapes or crab apples – I imagine lemon juice would work just as well) and salt. Then put them into your paste (pastry), and so close them up, and bake them. They will bake in halfe an houre, then take them foorth, and if ye thinke them dry, take a litle veriuyce and butter, and put to them, and so serve them.

To bake Chickins in like paste (pastry).

Take your chickens & season them with a litle ginger & salt, and so put them into your coffin (love this term for a pastry case), & so put in them barberries, grapes, or goseberies, & halfe a dish of buttter, so close them up, & set them in the oven, & when they are baken, take the yolkes of vi. egges, and a dishful of veriuyce, and drawe them through a strainer, and set them upon a chafingedyshe (I guess a double boiler would suffice). Then draw your baken chikens, and put therto this foresayd egges and veriuyce and thus serue them hotte.

To make pies of greene Apples.

Take your Apples and pare them cleane, and core them as ye wil a quince (love it).
Then make your coffin after this manner – take a litle fayre water (clean water), and halfe a fishe of butter, and a litle Saffron, and set all this upon a chafindyshe, tyll it bee hote. Then temper your flower with this sayd licour, and the white of two egges, & also make your coffin. Season your Apples with Cinamon, Ginger and Sugar inough. Then put them into your coffin, and bake them.

To make a dishefull of Snow.

Take a pottel of sweete thick creame and the white of 8 egges, and beate them altogether with a spone. Then put them in your creame, and a saucer full of rose water, and a dishe full of suger withal. Then take a stycke and make it cleane, and then cutte it in the ende foure square (whisk), and therewith beat all the aforesaide things together, and ever as ut riseth (beat until fluffy and risen), take it of, and put it into a Collander. This done, take an apple and set it in the middes of it, and a thicke bush of Rosemarye. Set it in the middes of the platter, then cast your snowe upon the Rosemarye, and fyll your platter therwith. And if you have wafers, cast some in withall, & thus serve them forth.

To make egges in mone shine.

Take a dishe of rose water, and a dishefull of suger, and set them upon a chafingdish, and let them boile. Then take the yolkes of 8. or 9. egges newlaid, and put them therto, every one from other, and so let them harden a little. And so after this maner serve them forth, and cast a little Cinnamon and suger.