Experimental German Pastry Success!

Out of Sabina Welserin 1553, translated by David Friedman:

61 To make a pastry dough for all shaped pies

Take flour, the best that you can get, about two handfuls, depending on how large or small you would have the pie. Put it on the table and with a knife stir in two eggs and a little salt. Put water in a small pan and a piece of fat the size of two good eggs, let it all dissolve together and boil. Afterwards pour it on the flour on the table and make a strong dough and work it well, however you feel is right. If it is summer, one must take meat broth instead of water and in the place of the fat the skimmings from the broth. When the dough is kneaded, then make of it a round ball and draw it out well on the sides with the fingers or with a rolling pin, so that in the middle a raised area remains, then let it chill in the cold. Afterwards shape the dough as I have pointed out to you. Also reserve dough for the cover and roll it out into a cover and take water and spread it over the top of the cover and the top of the formed pastry shell and join it together well with the fingers. Leave a small hole. And see that it is pressed together well, so that it does not come open. Blow in the small hole which you have left, then the cover will lift itself up. Then quickly press the hole closed. Afterwards put it in the oven. Sprinkle flour in the dish beforehand. Take care that the oven is properly heated, then it will be a pretty pastry. The dough for all shaped pastries is made in this manner.

In the proportions I used, this recipe makes a rich and tasty golden pastry with a tender crumb. Extra flour and chilling makes a dough plenty stiff enough to mold for a raised pie.

This recipe makes 10 tarts, about 8″ across.

10 oz unsalted butter
10 oz good lard
10 fluid oz water
3 eggs
1.5 tsp flour
32 oz flour + 1-2 cups for kneading & rolling

Gently heat water, lard and butter over low heat until fats are softened. Set aside to cool slightly. The mixture should be cooled enough not to cook the eggs but still warm. Combine flour, salt, and eggs in bowl until the eggs are no longer discernible. Add water & fat mixture and mix just until combined into a loose dough.  You may need to add an extra 1/2 c to get the dough to combine. As soon as it makes a ball (I used the paddle in a KitchenAid), dump onto parchment paper, set in a bowl, and chill until room temperature in the middle and cold at the edges. Dump dough out on a board and knead in flour lightly just until the dough is rollable. It will still be sticky but the higher fat:flour ratio also makes the dough tender.  Cut into 10 roughly 7 oz portions. Roll out, pile filling in the center, and fold edges back to the edges of the filling. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes in a convection oven.

I made three kinds of tarts from this dough, based on options in Ein New Kochbuch: mulberry, cherry, and plum. I used home-canned mulberry preserves and plums for those tarts since I had a large amount from my own fruit trees in the spring. Sour cherries are largely unavailable in Florida in October, so I mixed sweetened dried cherries with sweet frozen cherries and a bit of sugar to get a more-intense cherry flavor without thickeners. The whole canned plums were sprinkled with sugar and very good ground cinnamon. Note- no starchy thickeners in the tart fillings. Starch thickeners is noticeably absent in all of the tart recipes in Ein New Kochbuch except for grated weck bread in a strawberry tart, and fried buttered bread crumbs on a cherry tart in Welserin, which both give significantly different textures. Firmly resist that canned pie filling! Fruit and a sprinkle of sugar is delicious.

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