Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Colonial Recipe

I have been searching the web for some Colonial Customs on Christmas and have stumbled upon this recipe called The Twelfth Night Cake-So I wanted to share it with those of you who have not heard of it and give you a little background on it.

January 6th or Twelfth Night is the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the three Kings from the Far East to worship the Christ Child in Bethlehem. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Twelve Days of Christmas were typically a time of great merriment. Families were gathered together and balls and celebrations were held to mark important occasions. George Washington married Martha Custis on Twelfth Night. Shakespeare wrote a theatrical comedy called “Twelfth Night” to be performed for Queen Elizabeth I at the close of the Christmas holidays.

Just as important, there were sweets prepared to serve on this final night of feasting. The custom of Twelfth Night was practiced for years in England, where Victorian homemakers baked fancy, rich “Twelfth Night Cakes” flavored with candied fruits, citrus zest and liquor. Buried in this “Cake of Kings” was a bean, a tradition that dates back to Roman times. The guest who found the bean in his or her serving of cake would be named the king or queen of the revelry.

Twelfth Night Cake
Recipe for "Rich Cake" for Twelfth-Night Celebration
Recipe from "The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy" by Hanna Glasse


4 pounds flour, dried and sifted
7 pounds currents, washed and rubbed
6 pounds of the best fresh butter
2 pounds Jordan almonds, blanched and beaten with orange flour water
4 pounds eggs - put half of the whites away
3 pounds double refined sugar, beaten and sifted
1/4 ounce mace
1/4 ounce cloves
1/4 ounce cinnamon
3 large nutmegs, grated fine
A little ginger
1/2 pint "sack" or sherry wine
1/2 pint of right French brandy
Sweetmeats to your liking (candied lemon peel, orange peel, and citron, or melon)


Work butter into cream with hands; then add sugar and mix well together, well beat and strained through a sieve. Work in almonds first, and then put in eggs. Beat together with the set-aside egg whites until they look white and thick; then put in sack, brandy, and spices. Shake in flour by degrees, and when oven is ready, put in currents and sweet meats, as you put dough into your hoops.

Four hours baking in a quick oven (350°)

You must keep beating with hands, all the while you are mixing dough

Fills two large wooden baking hoops (probably 10 normal ring - or Bundt-type - baking pans)

Enjoy this recipe! And the next time you hear from me I will be posting some goodies that I received! Have a blessed day!


Anonymous said...

Hey Juanita just in case you didn't get my email. Go to my blog because you won the giveaway. Congrats on winning.
Prim Blessings

Originalsbyconnieione said...

Juanita~ First thanks for adding me :) I love how you put the history with the cake recipe, very interesting! Thank you :) I enjoyed your blog!

Rowan said...

I have just made mine which is pretty much the same recipe as you give but much smaller quantities! It is a lovely rich fruit cake that needs several weeks to mature and also needs 'feeding' a couple of times with a spoonful of sherry. In England most people have Christmas cake and I imagine that originally what we now call Christmas cake was the Twelfth Night cake. It will be covered in marzipan and icing just before Christmas. My recipe makes a 9" cake.