Subtleties or entremets (old French meaning ‘between servings) are works of art using food and story telling and which vary between simple frumenty to more elaborate models of fruit filled castles or allegorical figures from literature. They traditionally marked the end of one course and the beginning of another. Towards the end of the middle ages subtleties had evolved into such magnificence they ceased to be edible and became more a form theatrical entertainment.
They could be made from all manner of food and non food stuffs, one of the most popular being marzipan, a modelling paste made from almonds and sugar, bound together with egg white.
L11, who is in charge of the medieval feast arrangements for Scalliwag Castle, had been fascinated by the whole idea of subtleties. It was the first thing she asked to try out in her preparations for the feast. She researched using the following books and the internet:
It had been decided between the children that the medieval banquet (which they are hosting in April for their final medieval presentation) would be themed to the ‘War of the Roses (T12’s presentation). L11 decided to use the white and red rose as her main decorating tool. The subtleties, which were occasionally used to show political situations, were a perfect place for her to start. Having watched a dvd we had bought her on cake decorating, she decided create a design with two roses crossing each other (to represent war) and to use natural food dyes to paint the subtleties to make them more outstanding.
Using any excuse to spend some time with my gorgeous girl, we embarked on a pleasant afternoon subtlety making! We moulded some marzipan into two roses, one white and one red, crossed over in the centre:
It was interesting to see how differently we approached essentially the same design:
L11 wants to use a silver tray and decorate it around the edges with enough crossed roses for each person attending the presentation. In the middle of the tray she intends to make a 3D edible structure, but is undecided about what form she would like it to take.
Over the next few weeks she will be making her six courses and freezing them to serve up on the day. I’ll endeavour to share the recipes as and when she makes them.