[Sca-cooks] Coffyn pan and bread bowls

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Jan 19 12:10:50 PST 2008

On Jan 19, 2008, at 2:31 PM, Nancy Kiel wrote:

> We seem to have wandered far afield from the original discussion.   
> My contention is that one does not need a mold to make a coffin  
> pastry,


> and to use a mold defeats the raison d'etre for making an inedible  
> standing crust.

Also probably true.

>  I agree that not all pie crusts were meant to be inedible.  I don't  
> know enough about period cookware to know if they had pans you could  
> bake a pie in and then remove it, to serve it free-standing.  It  
> would be interesting to see how stiff a paste you can make that  
> would still be edible.

For that matter, how stiff you could make it and still produce a  
smooth, kneadable dough that can be worked over a reasonable period of  

In the end, we're not really going to know for sure, but usually you  
can get a sense from the filling whether it's supposed to keep for a  
period of time, or not. And then there's the fact that some recipes  
specify for you to "make/raise a coffin in a trap", while others  
simply instruct one to make a coffin.

>  As to bread bowls...why do we use them today (I'm not clear as to  
> their purpose)?  If you want period portable food, have a meat pie.   
> Rastons certainly present an argument for filling rolls with butter  
> soaked bread, but translating that into a larger-than-a-roll piece  
> of bread filled with stew is a bit of a stretch.

I thought Rastons were relatively large. And apparently I thought  
wrong, or at least not absolutely correct: the 15th century recipe  
doesn't specify size or number of servings. On the other hand, since a  
cover at a feast often served two, it might be considered a large roll.

As for a rationale in period for what we now think of as a bread bowl,  
it's hard to say, since people in period did address a number of the  
issues a bread bowl addresses with trenchers (and later sippets and  
toasts) and pastry in various forms. I think the bread bowl  
(especially when using that name) evolved in someplace like San  
Francisco, long considered one of the great sourdough bread centers of  
the world. Considering this from a business point of view, they're  
usually filling, and probably cheaper than the cioppino (chosen at  
random as  a San Francisco thing) you might fill them with, so you  
might be able to sell a smaller order of cioppino at the same, or even  
a higher, price. See, it's in a bread bowl! And it's _cute_!

[Have I mentioned my views on "cute" food? And note that "cute" is not  
the same as "attractive".]

Then there's the Free Dunking License associated with such a dish,  
that you might not get elsewhere, so it's fun food for some people.  
Some might argue there's a marginal effect on bussing, cleanup, and  
dishwashing, which may have actually been a big part of the trencher  
mystique in the Middle Ages.


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list