Tarts in the Elizabethan era were made with sturdy pastes that could be shaped fancifully, as these intricate illustrations from an early 17th century receipt book show.
To make a tart of Apples and Orenge pilles
[John Partridge (?), The Good Huswife’s Handmaide for the Kitchin, 1594]
Take your orenges, and lay them in water a day and a night, then seethe them in faire water and honey, and let them seeth till they be soft: then let them soak in the sirrup a day and night: then take them forth and cut them small, and then make your tart and season your Apples with Sugar, Synamon and Ginger, and put in a peece of butter, and lay a course of Apples, and between the same course of apples, a course of Orenges, and so course by course, and season your Orenges as you seasoned your Apples, with somewhat more sugar, then lay on the lid and put it in the oven, and when it is almost baked, take Rosewater and Sugar, and boyle them together till it be somewhat thick, then take out the Tart, and take a feather and spread the rosewater and Sugar on the lid, and set it into the Oven againe, and let the sugar harden on the lid, and let it not burne.
2 cups all purpose flour
large pinch salt
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons water, or more as needed, to make a stiff dough
1 cup honey
1 cup water
2 oranges, washed and cut into 1/4” thick rounds
4 Golden Delicious Apples
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water for an egg wash
1-1/2 tablespoons rosewater
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Combine the flour and salt. Break the butter into bits and work it into the flour to make a fine meal. Whisk together the eggs and water and incorporate the liquid into the flour to make a dry but pliable dough. Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice as big as the other. Shape into disks and wrap in plastic an refrigerate until you are ready to roll the dough.
2. Combine the honey and water in a large skillet and bring to the boil.Add the orange slices and poach gently for 30 minutes. Remove the slices to a rack to drain and reduce the poaching liquid to a glaze. Brush the glaze on the orange slices and reserve.
3. Peel the apples. Cut them in half, remove the core and slice into wedges 1/4 inch thick. Combine the cinnamon, ginger and sugar. Toss half of the spices with the apples and the remaining half with the candied oranges.
4. Preheat the over to 350º F. Roll the larger piece out to a diameter of about 12 inches and transfer to a sheet pan. Place one third of the apples on the bottom, leaving a 1 inch border on all sides. Cover the apples with half of the oranges. Make another layer of apples, then oranges, and finish with the remaining third portion of apples. Dot the mixture with the 3 tablespoons butter. Roll the smaller piece to form a lid and press down over the fruits, folding the bottom crust up and sealing the edges carefully. Cut a small vent in the top. Brush with the egg wash and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
5. Combine the rosewater and sugar in a saucepan and heat to melt the sugar. Brush the tart’s lid with the sugar mix and return to the oven for 10 minutes to set the glaze.