Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome Guest Bloggers Joyce and Jim Lavene!

Appyl Taryt

ghastly_glass01 Even though we write a modern-day Renaissance Faire in our mysteries WICKED WEAVES and GHASTLY GLASS, it’s been interesting to learn about cooking in the 16th century.

Renaissance festivals try to emulate those times, but most of the food is something everyone knows such as chili, pretzels and turkey legs. This is more to accommodate easy eating outside than authenticity.

There are some foods we still eat today that Renaissance folk ateJoyceandJim back in the 1500s. Apple pie has been around for centuries. Because apples are usually plentiful and store well, they have been a favorite for as long as there have been cooks.

The modern pie shell we eat today was called a coffin. It was never eaten, used only to keep the fruit moist. The rolling pin wasn’t invented until the 19th century so cooks would have used their hands or a smooth stone to spread the dough.

Sugar was available during the Renaissance but it was expensive and difficult to find. Even the wealthy lords and ladies did without most of the time. Honey was used as a sweetener, but in the case of apple pie, cooks would have relied on the sweetness of the fruit to make the pie taste good. Spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and even saffron were heavily utilized by cooks of that day.


Appyl Taryt


  • 8 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves

Pie Shell (coffin):

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of butter
  • ½ cup of milk
  • egg to brush on crust

Separate the mixture to make two crusts. Work together flour, salt, butter and milk until it forms a ball. Push it flat with your hand then roll gently until it is the size needed for the pie shell. Add the apple mixture then cover it with the second flour shell. Bake for one hour at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and brush egg on the shell then place back in oven until the top crust has browned. Serve hot or cold.

Joyce and Jim Lavene write the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, Renaissance Faire Mysteries and Missing Pieces Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.

Sounds delicious, Joyce and Jim! Thanks so much for sharing some 16th century cooking history with the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.

***Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to Good luck!


  1. How fabulous to share a slice of history along with a slice of pie! Enjoyed reading they didn't have much sugar back then. Who knew? Thanks for guesting today!

  2. I'm here from Elizabeth Craig's wonderful blog. I'm a mystery writer as well. So glad to you have found you! You guys are scary. You may even inspire me to cook...!!!

  3. Apple taryt. Yum. And I was just thinking I'd make an apple pie, today. I may have to revise.
    Thanks, Joyce and Jim!

  4. Good day, J&J! Your research is absolutely fascinating. Never knew the crust was once called a "coffin" - LOL! TOO funny that people didn't even eat it back then when these days the "perfect" crust is the thing. But then time changes all, I guess (or almost all)...Thanks for hanging out with us today. Renaissance Faire Mysteries are a fresh and unique entry in the field!


  5. Thanks so much for this recipe and history lesson. I've always wondered why my few attempts at apple pie were bland. My favorite spice is clove and I've never put it in an apple pie! Duh. It is, by the way, the "secret ingredient" in Swedish meatballs...someone raised by a Swede can spot "inauthentic" meatballs by the absence of clove.

  6. History served up with desert - how can ya top that? lol - Enjoyed the post, now I'm off to the kitchen ... hungry!

    Marvin D Wilson

  7. I thought that any recipe mentioning coffins sounded perfect for a mystery writer! :)


  8. I love the idea of not eating the crust. I make terrible pie crusts and will either buy the Pillsbury variety or make a Graham Cracker crust. My mother's side of the family made a fantastic apple-raisin-almond pie, but mine never came up to snuff.

  9. That recipe looks delish!! My mother uses shortening in her crust, instead of butter. I used to love helping her make them every year to enter into the local fair...

  10. My British friends complain that American apple pie is a bit too sweet for their tastes. I wonder if this version would please them more. I totally suck at pie crusts. I like to poke at things too much and my crusts get tough. Reincarnation, maybe? :-)

  11. Will have to keep this recipe handy for the next time we do a medieval event at the library. We usually do a banquet at the end and this would be perfect.

  12. I love reading your books. Love the characters.