Friday, 13 September 2013

Saved from the 16th Century - a Flowery Flan

I've never made anything with edible flowers before, not even the staple of modern vegetarian chic - the Courgette Flower. This recipe from the past (that's Fanny's past, realising all the recipes I am working on are old too) calls for Borage, Marigold and Cowslip flowers. I've never really seen them anywhere before, but after asking folk on Twitter was soon pointed to some local suppliers, and I found these beauties at the Stockbridge Market at the weekend. So colourful! Maybe not the exact three Fanny recommends but they are good enough for me!

Fanny says I can use other flowers but cautions against using any part of a plant for food unless studying first 'Modern Herbal' by Mrs Grieve and Mrs Leyel. I'm guessing that Fanny has done this for me, and also that the guys at the market have also done their homework and are totally sure their flowers clearly marked 'edible' are indeed. Fanny I am sure did not have the modern day luxury of a farmers market to pick up such things.

The ingredients are fairly simple - apples, egg yolks, butter, the flowers and mace. How very medieval. Even the word 'mace' makes me think historically. No sugar though, so I'm expecting this tart to be quite sharp.

Fanny tells me that back in 'those days' this flan was baked in a 'raised pastry coffin' which doesn't sound very appealing at all, but does conjure up images of Knights and Round Tables. Thankfully Fanny suggest updating it slightly with her very one sweet paste, baked as before, simply as demonstrated by Peter. The apples need to be sliced thinly and poached in the 'least amount of water' possible. 

I wasn't sure how long for, so I kept going until they were puréed. It seemed to make sense. Then Fanny asked me to simmer the lovely flowers in water until they were tender. The water turned a very lovely shade of blue...

To prepare the tart from now on in was fairly simple - combine the cooked apples, a 'walnut' of butter, egg yolks, mace and flowers. I checked again, no sugar. It sort of makes an apple curd, thickens slightly and has a nice sheen.

So all that remains is to fill the baked flan case, allow to cool and decorate with a few flowers I saved from the simmering. I of course changed into my very favourite medieval outfit before tasting - it was indeed extremely 'tart' and the peppery taste of the flowers was unusual, but not unpleasant at all, just made me realise how sweet modern day tastes must be. I really do feel transported back to the 16th Century with this one, and will certainly use more edible flowers in the future. Safely of course. I will complete my studies. Now, quick joust anyone? 


  1. You are very brave trying this!! Not sure I would give it a go myself!