By Charles Alan Welsh, Intern, Historic Foodways
When dinning with a Royal Governor it is just as important to eat with one’s eyes and nose, as with one’s mouth. Fanciful desserts of sweetmeats, sugar and pastry, such as a crocant, were a way to delight dinners while showing off the power and wealth of the host. Though not hard to create, a pastry dome crocant would take time and effort to produce.
From The Lady’s Magazine; Or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex …, Volume 4, 1773, G. Robinson
When you make sweetmeat tarts, or a crocant tart, lay in the sweetmeats, or preserved fruits either in glass or china patties that are small, for that purpose; lay a very thin crust on the top, and let them be baked no more than till your crust is nicely coloured, and that in a slow oven. If you would have a crocant tart for the middle of the table, or a side dish, have a glass or china dish, of what size you please, and lay in the preserved fruits of different sorts, (you must have a round cover just the size of the inside of your dish) roll out a sugar crust, the thickness of an half crown, and lay over the cover; mark it with marking irons, made on purpose for that use, of what shapes you please; then put the crust, with the cover, into a very slack oven, not to discolour it, only to have it crisp. When you take it out of the oven, loosen it from the cover very gently, and when quite cold, take it carefully off, and lay over your sweetmeats, and it being hollow, you will see the fruit through it. If the tart is not eaten, only take off the lid, and your sweetmeats may be put into the pots again.
Historic Foodways Adaptation
Recipe for Pastry:
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup (1 stick) of Butter
1 Teaspoon of Salt
3 Tablespoons of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Water ( you might need more or less water depending on temperature in your kitchen)
NOTE: For this project you will need a metal or oven safe bowl, preferably one that does not have a flat bottom. A copper, round bottom mixing bowl is preferable if available. If not, any medium size mixing bowl will work, but will not have a rounded dome shape.
Steps: 1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together to remove any clumps.
2. Break or cut the butter into small pieces. Add to the dry mixture with finger tips until butter is mostly incorporated (you may use a pastry cutter or two knives).
3. Add the water and egg and combine slightly more than one would for pie crust. The more you work the pastry and the more egg you add the stronger your pastry dome will be.
4. Roll you pastry on a floured board to about 1/2 in.
5. Prep a metal or other oven safe bowl (see beginning note), and generously apply room temperature butter.
6. Place the rolled out pastry over the bowl, and with cool hands smooth down edges. Do not worry if it is not perfect you can always remove and apply again.
7. Use a knife to trim the bottom of the pastry and ensure that the pastry is not caught on any part of the bowl.
8. Begin to cut out designs. You have substantial freedom in the designs you choose. You only want to make sure that there is enough room in between each cut out. Keep in mind that the pastry is going to be freestanding. A modern note- cookie cutters in geometric or card shapes work well.
9. Let sit on kitchen counter for 15 minutes while oven preheats to 350o F.
10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes turning half way through the cooking process.
11. Remove from the oven and let cool completely for 10 minutes. GENTLY loosen the crust to make sure it is not sticking to the pan. Continue to cool on the bowl for 45 minutes to an hour.
12. Gently remove by using your fingertips, and place over a dish candy, whip cream trifle or any other sweet.