This is a recipe for 'chastletes', which were small pastry castles. The pastries were filled with pork or almonds, and coloured with saffron or sandalwood. The word 'coffin' referred to the pastry case, which was made in advance.
About the Forme of Cury
The Forme of Cury is one of the oldest known instructive cookery manuscripts in the English Language. It is believed to have been written at the end of the fourteenth century by the master-cooks of Richard II (1377 - 1399). The manuscript is in the form of a scroll made of vellum - a kind of fine calfskin parchment. It contains 196 recipes. The word 'cury' is the Middle English word for 'cookery'.
The preamble to the manuscript explains that the work has been given the 'assent and avysement of Maisters and phisik and of philosophie at dwelled in his court.' ('approval and consent of the masters of medicine and of philosophy that dwelt in his (Richard II's) court.') This proud acknowledgement illustrates the ancient link between medicine and the culinary arts.
The author states that the recipes are intended to teach a cook to make everyday dishes ('Common pottages and common meats for the household, as they should be made, craftily and wholesomely'), as well as unusually spiced and spectacular dishes for banquets ('curious potages and meetes and sotiltees for alle maner of States bothe hye and lowe.') The word 'sotiltee' (or subtlety) refers to the elaborate sculptures that often adorned the tables at grand feasts. These displays, usually made of sugar, paste, jelly or wax, depicted magnificent objects: armed ships, buildings with vanes and towers, eagles. They were also known as 'warners,' as they were served at the beginning of a banquet to 'warn' (or notify) the guests of the approaching dinner.
The Forme of Cury is the first English text to mention olive oil, cloves, mace and gourds in relation to British food. Most of the recipes contain what were then luxurious and valuable spices: caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper. There are also recipes for cooking strange and exotic animals, such as whales, cranes, curlews, herons, seals and porpoises.