The roles of Master Confectioner and Master Pastryman were too obvious to need explaining to seventeenth century readers of The Perfect School of Instruction for the Officers of The Mouth (1682). Elaborate pies (‘bake-meats’) and tarts, clever marzipan (marchpane) shapes, colourful sweetmeats and so on were prestigious dishes at great dinners, and royal and aristocratic households had no problem in keeping both departments very busy.
The Perfect School advised the Master Confectioner that he would be shown how to make ‘… all sorts of Sweetmeats, both wet and dry, with the Compounds of Fruits and Sallets, with the manner how to make all Delicious Drinks, very Pleasant and delightful to the Taste and Pallat. The Master Pastryman needed to know how to ‘… make all Bake-meats in Perfection, with the Composition of all Pastes, as Biskets, Makaroons, and Marchpains.’
Virtually everything in those times was made ‘from scratch’, including spice mixes and food colourings. The mortar and pestle got a great workout, as the following recipes (from The Perfect School) show:
How to prepare all Spices for a Pastry-man’s use, call’d Sweet Spice.
You should take two ounce of Ginger, one ounce of Pepper beaten to powder, and mingled together, then add Cloves, Nutmegs, and Cinnamon beaten, of each one ounce, this quantity of the Spices may serve to put to a whole pound of pepper, either more or less, these being mingled together must be kept in a Box, for use.
You may keep them each by himself, because some will use pepper only, but all together is more pleasant, and for your Spice and Salt you should put the weight of your Spice in Salt well bruised, and keep it in a dry place for your use.
When you would prepare your green for colouring of either your Preserves or Paste, take the young leaves of a Pear-tree, beat them in a Mortar, strain out the juice into a dish, and set it upon the fire, and when it begins to boil put it into a strainer or cloath, and take the scum that stays upon the Cloath or Strainer, and keep it for your use when you would colour anything green, either Paste or Preserve.
Quotation for the Day.
Bad cooks – and the utter lack of reason in the kitchen – have delayed human development longest and impaired it most.
Freidrich Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil