The mattetaarten of Geraadsbergen

When visiting the city of Geraardsbergen, a town in the north of Belgium, you must try the local specialty: Mattetaarten!

Mattentaarten come in small or sometimes large round cakes like shapes that consist of a puff pastry, filled with a special filling called matt paste. The Geraardsbergse mattentaarten are inseparably connected to the history and culture of the city Geraarsbergen and so on the rest of Flanders.

Already in the 13th century there was a troubadours song that referred to "mattes" or "mattons" . This word was at that time the word for mattentaarten  as well in French, German and Flemish dialects.

A problem with storing the milk was at the origin of the invention of these "mattes" .Up to and till the 19th century only monasteries and castles had cool cellars to store fresh products. The average farmer didn't have this possibility. Therefore they allowed the raw milk to curdle in mats and whey. The milk was cooked together with acidic buttermilk and then drained in muslin.This matt paste was mixed with sugar and egg yolks, rolled out on square pieces of puff pastry which were folded diagonally, and then baked in the oven.

On December 12, 1665 the bakers of Geraadsbergen setup the internal regulations and quality rules for making Mattetaarten. These rules were confirmed by an imperial decree on January 18, 1752 by Maria-Theresa. In 1978 the bakers founded the "Brotherhood of the Geraardsbergse Mattentaart".

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