Custard Lumbarde (Fruit and Custard Tart)

Custard lumbarde.

Take good creme, and ffoiles of (Note: The MS. has “parcelly crossed through.”) and yolkes And white of egges, and breke hem thereto, and streyne hem all thorgh a straynour till hit be so thik that it woll bere him self; And take faire Mary, And Dates, cutte in ij. or iij. and prunes, and put hem in faire coffyns of paast; And then put the coffyn in an oven, And lete hem bake till thei be hard, And then drawe hem oute, and putte the licoure into the Coffyns, And put hem into the oven ayen, And lete hem bake till they be ynogh MS. Harleian 4016 27.

Custard lumbarde.
Take good cream, and yolks and white of eggs, and break them thereto, and strain them all through a strainer until it be so thick that it will bear itself; and take fair bone marrow, and dates, cut in 2 or 3 (pieces) and prunes, and put hem in fair coffins of pastry; and then put the coffin in an oven, and let them bake until they be hard, And then draw them out, and put the liquor (custard) into the coffins, And put them into the oven again, and let them bake until they be (cooked) enough.

The Lombardy region in northwest Italy was an important trading and agricultural region in medieval Europe.  Its major cities, particularly Milan, had a great impact on culture, and there are a number of English recipes of this period that feature “Lumbard” in the name.  Presumably this gave them an extra exotic cachet.


1 quantity shortcrust pastry
100g pitted prunes 300mL cream
60g dates 2 eggs, well beaten
50g bone marrow 30g sugar


  1. Chop the dates and the prunes into small pieces. Chop the bone marrow into small pieces too.
  2. Roll out the pastry to approx. 4mm thickness and line a greased pie plate with it.
  3. Prick the bottom of the tart shell. Sprinkle the bottom of the shell with the chopped fruit, then dot with the bone marrow.  Bake the tart shell for approx. 12 minutes in a 200° oven. Remove and leave to cool.
  4. Whip the cream until it becomes stiff. Add the beaten eggs and mix well to combine.
  5. Pour the custard into the tart, over the fruit. Sprinkle the custard with the sugar.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°, and bake the tart for approximately 40 minutes, or until the custard has set.
  7. Serve cool.


  • Bone marrow is obtained from the inside of leg bones of cows, and in my opinion is THE BEST part of the cow (I really love beef). Many butchers sell these bones cheaply for pets (lucky pets!); ask if they will saw the bones up for you, as they are quite a pain to split without power tools.

Lumbarde custarde

Further Reading

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Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks

One comment on “Custard Lumbarde (Fruit and Custard Tart)

  1. Two questions.

    1. Why do you assume the coffin is pastry rather than a flour and water dough?
    2. The business about putting it through a strainer until it is stiff is puzzling. You whipped the cream, then added the eggs, which isn’t what the recipe says. Have you tried experimenting with putting eggs and cream through a strainer multiple times to see if it gets stiff?


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