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Tudor Day

200px-Red_Rose_Badge_of_Lancaster.svgAs another Costume day at school dawns, you find me frantically putting finishing touches to the outfit and dressing the Tudor girl. Costume day has sometimes been a royal pain in the proverbial (particularly back in the days when you were only given about a week’s notice to frantically knock out a suitable period outfit), but on this occasion (and despite being very busy) I’ve loved it. Tudor is one of my favourite clothing periods (along with Medieval and Victorian) as it has such a variety of sumptuous loveliness and lots of interesting underpinnings and accessories. DD and I had lots of fun making and stuffing the bum roll and selecting pearls, trims and fabrics for the outfit. Sadly, I didn’t have time to make her a penner for her quill and ink, but we managed the rest of the outfit just about in time.

Here are some pics:

Farthingale & bumroll

Farthingale and bumroll

Tudor hair

French Hood supporting hairdo

From my own professional viewpoint, this was a useful exercise in constructing Tudor underpinnings and accessories with the aid of The Tudor Tailor  and a myriad of other costume books.




Tudor dress 2

The whole outfit



Sadly, despite my copy being hot off the press (and signed), The Tudor Child arrived too late to contribute more than the information that children often wore bags rather than veils on their French Hoods, presumably for practical reasons. If I’d had the book sooner, I would have been tempted by the sumptuous purple and gold Princess Elizabeth costume and even the more everyday schoolgirl outfit, but these are definitely projects to be pencilled in for the future (DD does love dressing up). I will now be adding farthingales and bum rolls to my repertoire (and stock) and also French hoods. I would very much have liked to make a ruff, but time was limited and I did not have suitable fabric in stock.

* Alright, so this last pic isn’t part of the outfit, but DD informed me that they were having a Tudor feast, so we decided to make some something from a Tudor cookbook. See the recipe below.

To make peascods in Lent.

Take Figs, Raisons, and a few Dates, and beate them very fine, and season it with Cloues, Mace, Cinamon and Ginger, and for your paste seeth faire Water and oyle in a dish vppon coales, put therein saffron and salt and a little flower, fashion them then like peasecods, and when ye will serue them, frye them in Oyle in a frying panne, but let the Oyle bee verie hotte, and the fire soft for burning of them, and when yee make them for fleshe dayes, take a fillet of veale and mince it fine, and put the yolkes of two or three rawe egges to it, and season it with pepper, salt, cloues, mace, ho-nie, suger, cinamon, ginger, small raisons, or great minced, and for your paste, butter, the yolke of an egge, and season them, and frye them in butter as yee did the other in oyle.

The Good Huswifes Jewell, Thomas Dawson 1596

This is probably not the kind of recipe that you are accustomed to: no weights and measures and some hefty assumptions about your pastry-making skills, but do not despair, I have translated it for you. We will ignore the references to veal since it is both a Friday and Lent, so most definitely not a ‘fleshe’ day 🙂

If you have made any kind of stuffed dumpling (pierogi, gyoza, etc) then the stuffing process be familiar to you and if you’ve ever made a proper pork pie, the pastry will be a doddle as well.

For the filling:
In a food processor whizz up dried figs, raisins and a few dates together with ground cloves, mace, cinnamon and ginger to make a coarse paste (or bash them up in a pestle and mortar if you want to do it the hard way). If your fruit is very dry, add a little apple juice. I’m afraid I didn’t weigh the fruit, but I used about a dozen each of figs and stoned dates and a generous handful of raisins, enough to fill my mini chopper. The precise blend of spices is a matter of taste. Cloves have quite a strong flavour, but they were hugely popular in Tudor cuisine, so don’t be too sparing.

For the hot water pastry:
250g plain flour
100ml boiling water
50ml oil
a saffron strand

Method 1:
Sift the flour with the salt. Mix the water, saffron and oil then work into the flour gradually to make a loose dough. You can whizz it up in a food processor if you prefer. Work the dough into a ball. (You can omit the saffron if you have none – I must admit that I forgot to include it in my peascods)
This is the method I used, but with hindsight it occurred to me that the original recipe describes something rather more similar to the first stage of Choux pastry, so I will try the following method next time and if you choose this, please let me know the results.

Method 2:
Bring the water and oil to the boil in a saucepan together with the saffron and salt. Remove from the heat and tip in all the flour at once. Beat with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough has formed. Allow to cool slightly.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough fairly thinly while it is still warm and pliable (it will stiffen as it cools). Cut out rounds with a glass or round cutter and roll into an oval shape. Put a teaspoon of filling along the centre of the oval, seal the edges (smear a little milk onto the edges to help it stick if necessary) and fold the sealed edge over to make a pea pod (peascod) shape.

Heat oil in a pan until fairly hot then turn down the heat slightly. Fry the peascods lightly on all sides until golden brown. They cook very quickly so be careful not to burn them. Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm or cold.

15 March 2013

6 Comments to “Tudor Day”

  1. That outfit is absolutely STUNNING. You should be making adults’ dresses that look like that. I’d buy one for swanning around the house and frightening all the children in the neighbourhood 😀

    Now, about this peascod dish – there are loads of things in it that I would have thought the preserve of the rich – the spices (saffron for example) and imported stuffs like dates and figs. I am now going to have to go and read up about the sorta food that people ate in Tudor times! And if I can’t find the book, why don’t you WRITE ONE?!


    • Thanks, I’ll happily make adult sized versions, though mostly I plan to offer off the peg farthingales, bum rolls and headdresses 🙂
      Yes, the ingredients were the preserve of the wealthy but to some extent that is true today – have you seen how expensive those little spice jars are? And dried fruit too!
      The cookbooks too will have been written by chefs to royalty and the aristocracy and so the recipes reflect that. However, many dishes use herbs grown in this country too. Figs can certainly grow here and grapes too. Also, if you consider the use of pomanders (oranges studded with cloves) it would suggest that such spices were not exactly rare. Britannia really did rule the waves at this prosperous time and trade with distant lands was common across Europe.
      Several cookbooks exist from the Medieval and Tudor period and prior, but you do need to know how to cook to use them as the recipes are more like memoranda for chef than instructions for noobs. I would love to write such a book, but it does take a lot of time and people expect a greater degree of precision than I ever use, as I don’t really feel it is in the spirit of the thing 🙂
      I will be posting another favourite Medieval recipe (from A Forme of Cury) and more about spices very soon, so watch this space 🙂

  2. Am I missing something or are bumrolls just for skinny women who want to look like they have hips? If I added any more size to my butt, I’d just look ridiculous! Still, DD pulls it off beautifully 🙂

    • Perhaps you are right, but making your hips look larger also makes your waist look smaller, a fashion replicated in early Victorian fashion with crinolines and to a more extreme degree with early Georgian period panniers, some of which were the size of a sofa. That aside, a well-placed bumroll gives you somewhere to rest your elbows (and enormous sleeves) 🙂

  3. I prefer a bustle to a bumroll 😀

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