Pears in red wine with spices was one of the most popular medieval desserts served at medieval banquets and feasts.
When most people think of medieval cookery their first thoughts turn to medieval meat, medieval bread and medieval pottage recipes. However, desserts played a part in medieval life and although they were not as varied and sumptuous as the kind of desserts we eat today, they could nevertheless be very tasty.
Honey, ginger, fruit, wine and spices were key ingredients in many medieval desserts.
Eggs, milk and cream were used for making cream custard tart often with honey or spices to add sweetness and flavour. Sometimes the milk was substituted by almond milk to make it even richer, particularly if it was outside Lent but this was generally only affordable by richer people, not peasants.
Pine nuts made a good dessert when combined with toasted bread and honey mixed with spices.
Dates and pears were popular in dessert recipes.
Dates could be used to make sweetmeat when combined in a recipe with brown breadcrumbs, white wine, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and egg yolks – somewhat like a date loaf that we might bake today.
Pears were popular when cooked in red wine and sometimes mixed with other fruit such as mulberries. Ground ginger and cinnamon were a must in the recipe.