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York’s Castle Museum explores the history of the mince pie
VISITORS to York’s Castle Museum are in for a festive treat this year, as the history of the mince pie is explored.
From the recipes of the Tudor period – which feature a beef filling in a lard-based pastry, topped with rosewater and sugar – to the lighter Georgian version – with currants, almonds, apple and brandy – right up to modern examples, visitors can try a taste of history.
Visitors can listen to the chefs go through the historic reasons for the changes, or even get involved by helping to create the mouthwatering savoury or sweet pies, with recipes dating back to the 16th century.
Natalie Kingston is a guide at the museum’s kitchen studio, who will be working with volunteers and the public to bake the pies throughout the week.
She said: “Back then, pies were so expensive even royalty and wealthy families only had them once a year.
“This is my sixth year here, and the whole gallery could be completely empty, but when something comes out of the oven, everyone rushes over to the door.”
Lucy Knock, assistant curator of history learning, said: “Yorkshire cookery writer Elizabeth Moxon’s recipe is in our collection and is one of the earliest versions of the mince pie as we know it now.
“It was only by the 16th Century we started associating them with Christmas. Before that people would eat mince and spices together more often.”
Visitors Qilong Huang, 24, and Betty Zou, 22, both from China, were among the first to try the Georgian pies yesterday, and they left an impression on them.
Betty said: “I didn’t expect to be given food at a museum, but it was delicious, very nice. Very soft and not too sweet, like other cakes.”
Qilong said: “It was a nice surprise when looking round a museum, I didn’t expect to be able to have food here, and it makes this museum different from others.”
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