Tart on Ember Day

Ancient Cookery p. 448/38

In pagan Rome offerings were made to various gods and goddesses of agriculture in the hope that the deities would provide a bountiful harvest (in June), a rich vintage (in September), or a productive seeding (in December). Other references to Ember days point to much more specific pre-christian Celtic origins, linked to the Celtic custom of observing various festivals at three-month intervals: (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain). In any event, the ancient Christian Church often sought to co-opt pagan feasts and reorient them to different purposes. The word "ember" derives from the Anglo-Saxon ymb-ren, a circuit or revolution (from ymb, around, and rennen, to run), clearly relating to the annual cycle of the year. The occurrence of the Anglo-Saxon compounds ymbren-tid ("Embertide"), ymbren-wucan ("Ember weeks"), ymbren-fisstan ("Ember fasts"), ymbren-da gas ("Ember days") makes this etymology quite certain.

Parboil onions, and sage, and parsley and hew them small, then take good fat cheese, and bray it, and do thereto eggs, and temper it up therewith, and do thereto butter and sugar, and raisyngs of corince, and powder of ginger, and of canel, medel all this well together, and do it in a coffin, and bake it uncovered, and serve it forth.


Pie crust:


  1. Make a pie crust by mixing flours and salt, stirring in water and kneading smooth.
  2. Roll it out and put it in a 9" pie shell.
  3. Chop the onions and boil 10 minutes, drain.
  4. Grate cheese
  5. Mix everything and put in pie crust.


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