Saturday, January 16, 2016

Writer in the Kitchen: Sigga's Berry Tarts from Regan Walker

I'm thrilled to welcome historical romance author Regan Walker to this week's Writer in the Kitchen segment!

In Rogue Knight, my medieval romance set in York, England in 1069-70, Emma’s servant, Sigga, makes tarts from the berries picked by the twins, Finna and Ottar—tasty treats that soon have their faces smeared with berry juice. Here are two versions of the recipe, one truly medieval and one not so much.

Take Wyn, & putte in a potte, an clarifyd hony, an Saunderys, pepir, Safroun, Clowes, Maces, & Quybibys, & mynced Datys, Pynys and Roysonys of Corauns, & a lytil Vynegre, & sethe it on þe fyre; an sethe fygys in Wyne, & grynde hem, & draw hem þorw a straynoure, & caste þer-to, an lete hem boyle alle togederys...þan kytte hem y lyke lechyngys, an caste hem in fayre Oyle, and fry hem a lytil whyle; þanne take hem owt of þe panne, an caste in-to a vesselle with þe Syrippe, & so serue hem forth, þe bryndonys an þe Sirippe, in a dysshe; & let þe Sirippe be rennyng, & not to styf.   
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books

Or, you could try this one that is more modern and uses small pastry shells, but just as tasty:

  • 3/4 c. cream
  • 1/4 c. wine (sweet red)
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 5 egg yolks + 1 egg
  • 1 pint berries (can used mixed berries)
  • 1/2 c. chopped dates
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 to 3/4th teaspoon Poudre Forte* or 1/4 tsp each saffron & ginger and 1/8 tsp each mace & ground cloves
  • 2 pre-baked pie shells, or 8-4 inch pre-baked tart shells (see recipe below)
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, wine, saffron and other spices, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. In a separate container, beat egg yolks and honey together. While beating, add a bit of the hot milk mixture. Pour this back into the pot with the hot liquid while whisking furiously. Place the cut berries and dates in baked pie shells and spoon the cream mixture over fruit and into the shells.

Bake at 375° F for 45 minutes, or until the filling has set. You can garnish with fresh berries. Serves 4-6.

Note: * Poudre Forte is an ancient blend of spices. You can get an updated version containing ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, Tellicherry, Grains of Paradise and cloves from World Spice, where I purchased it.

For the pastry, here’s the recipe for Medieval Sweet Dough:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 sticks butter
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
Dissolve the saffron in 1/2 cup water. While that is going, work the butter into the flour, then add the egg yolk and saffron water. Stir until incorporated, adding more water very gradually until everything just sticks together. (I recommend chilling the dough before working with it.)

To pre-bake a shell, line a pan with the dough, rolled very thin. Using a fork, poke holes all over the bottom of the pan, or use a pie weight. Bake for around 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Don’t let it start to brown!

Remove from oven and fill as per the recipe. Makes enough for eight 4-inch tart pans and one 9-inch pan.

Recipe (though slightly modified) courtesy of The Inn at the Crossroads.

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Rogue Knight
“... flawlessly crafted…”  We Who Write

York, England 1069… three years after the Norman Conquest
The North of England seethes with discontent under the heavy hand of William the Conqueror, who unleashes his fury on the rebels who dare to defy him. Amid the ensuing devastation, love blooms in the heart of a gallant Norman knight for a Yorkshire widow.

Angry at the cruelty she has witnessed at the Normans’ hands, Emma of York is torn between her loyalty to her noble Danish father, a leader of the rebels, and her growing passion for an honorable French knight.

Loyal to King William, Sir Geoffroi de Tournai has no idea Emma hides a secret that could mean death for him and his fellow knights.

War erupts, tearing asunder the tentative love growing between them, leaving each the enemy of the other. Will Sir Geoffroi, convinced Emma has betrayed him, defy his king to save her?

Meet the Author
Regan Walker is an award-winning, #1 bestselling, multi-published author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romance. She has five times been featured on USA TODAY's HEA blog and twice nominated for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf's Prize won Best Historical Novel for 2015 in the medieval category). Regan writes historically authentic novels with real history and real historic figures where her readers can experience history, adventure and love.

Regan loves to hear from readers, and you may contact  her via her website:



  1. Thanks so much MK. So glad to be sharing this on your lovely blog~!