17th century Plum Pie

17th century plum pie

The last few plums looked at me from the fridge with a face that said ‘use us!’. This season’s plum harvest was plentiful at the historical garden Warmoes. So there were loads of plums to experiment with and we created many new historical recipes. My favourite new historical plum recipe is this pie with many different kinds of spices and crumbled cookies from the Dutch cookbook Koocboec oft Familieren Keukenboec, by Antonius Magirus from 1612.

A copy of an Italian recipe

I recognized this recipe from an Italian cookbook from the 16th century. That recipe calls for strawberries instead of plums. We used this strawberry recipe during the historical cooking week in Tuscany last May. Magirus lend his recipe from Bartolomeo Scappi. Scappi’s cookbook Opera dell’arte del cucinare (1570). Scappi also added a recipe for a strawberry cake (6.129) and a similar recipe with cherries (5.49). The remarkable thing about these recipes is that he uses several layers of dough that is similar to puff pastry. Unfortunately, the Flemish Magirus did not use this technique. The recipe of Magirus down below can also be made the Italian way with homemade puff pastry, quick puff pastry and store-bought puff pastry. If you ask me, it is even tastier when you use puff pastry.


A special ingredient that is used in this recipe are mostaccioli. The name for this ingredient comes directly from Scappi. Mostaccioli are cookies that are baked twice and are made with a very thin kind of dough. The Italian chef even gives several recipes in his cookbook.  I tried to make them myself several times, but I still have not found out how Scappi made them exactly. I think he either made double-baked cantucci (but this dough is too dry in comparison to what Scappi says) or the crisp amaretti (however, Scappi does not use almonds). During my experiment, I used baked mostaccioli, amaretti and cantucci. The mostaccioli version is by far my personal favourite because the cookies have anise in them. The amaretti version was the public’s favourite at a testing, which are also used in the version down below.

Two fruit pies

Antonius Magirus put two fruit pies in the cookbook, back to back. I experimented with both of them and eventually combined both recipes into one pie. The base of the recipe is number 111, but I used some tips from recipe 112 to make the filling. I cooked the fruit first and stirred some egg yolks in, which results in a deliciously creamy pie that you can slice into nice pieces after it has cooled down. I ate so much of these pies last few weeks, but I would have another slice without a doubt.

The pie is delicious with any kind of plums, but it is also tasty to use gooseberries.

Antonius Magirus’ plum pie



400 grams of flour
3 tbsp sugar
200 grams cold butter
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp rose water*

*If you use rose water from the bigger bottles coming from the Asian supermarket, you need to use a tbsp instead of a tsp from the rose water we use.


1 kg plums
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp currants
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp tail pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
150 grams of amaretti cookies
2 egg yolks
1 egg white & sugar for covering the dough


Cut the butter into small pieces. Put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a bowl and knead until it is a crumbly dough. Whisk the egg and add the rose water. Add to the dough and knead into a ball. You can add some water if it is too dry. Let the dough rest in the fridge while you make the filling.

Clean the plums by pitting them and cutting them in smaller pieces. Put them in a pan with the sugar, currants and spices, bring to a boil. Cook the plums for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until they are nice and soft. Let the mixture cool in the fridge.

Crumble the amaretti. Whisk the egg yolks. Add both to the cooled plums and mix well.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into a nice, round sheet and put in a greased baking tin. Poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Put an egg wash on the entire inside and immediately sprinkle sugar on top, so everywhere is a bit of sugar.

Put the plum mixture inside. Roll out the rest of the dough into a round sheet and put it on top of the pie to cover it. Use the excess egg yolk to egg wash the top and also sprinkle with sugar. Bake the pie in a preheated oven at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes.

We also tested a gooseberry version!