today is most closely associated with Middle Eastern cookery, but it was a
popular flavouring closer to home from as early as the Roman occupation of
Britain in the 5th century. It can be found in both sweet and savoury recipes from the medieval
period, and is much used in Tudor cookery, particularly as an additional
flavouring in Marchpane – an early form of marzipan.
The following recipe for sweet egg-custard tart is a great example of using rosewater to add subtle flavour to a dish. It needs to be used sparingly though as it has an intense flavour, so a little goes a long way.
Despite its apparent simplicity, this is quite a grand dish, most likely reserved for the wealthy who could afford the rosewater, the sugar, and, also a baking oven to cook it in! It could well have been decorated with rose petals, which are also edible, and would have been brought to the table as a show-piece to indicate wealth, social status and the skill of your cook.
A Tart of Custard
8 inch short crust flan case
6 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup single cream
1 tsp rosewater
1. Fill the pastry case with baking beans and bake in a medium oven until cooked
2. Beat together the eggs, cream and sugar
3. Add the rose water to the custard and taste
4. Remove the baking beans from the pastry case and pour the custard in
5. Bake in a moderate over until firm and golden
6. Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with finely sliced scented rose petals
Check back soon for our July Tudor Recipe of the Month