Boil or steam the potatoes and while they are cooking, prepare the bread sauce. Peel the onion and stick a few cloves into it. Put in a pan with the milk and the bay leaf, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. Remove the onion, add the breadcrumbs and transfer the sauce to a double boiler or bain-marie and cook over barely simmering water for about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes are cooked, dry them well, season and make a purée. Stir in the bread sauce, and finally the butter.
In his The English Hus-wife, published in 1615,
Gervase Markhamgave an account of a pie that comprised best pastry filled with artichoke bottoms, thickly sliced boiled potatoes with a topping of candied eringo-roots mixed with very thick slices of dates. The pie also contained beef marrow, spices, currants and raisins. After baking, the pie was filled with white wine, rosewater, cinnamon and vinegar.
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