Monday, 6 January 2014

12th night cake

Today I made a 12th night cake. Twelfth Night, the traditional last day of Christmas, is on the night of the 5th of January. Traditionally 2 cakes are made; a king and queen cake. Cake favours, items in the shape of a pea and a bean, or indeed, an actual dried pea and bean, are baked into the cake and placed on top of the cakes are two crowns. The man who found the bean in his slice of cake became ‘King’ and reigned for the evening, alongside his Queen who found the pea. The King and Queen would make up the games for the rest of guests to play and adjudicate over the evenings celebrations. This represents ‘misrule’, a very old custom in Britain and Ireland, for one night of the year, on 12th Night, the lord and lady became the servants, and the servants became the lord and lady.  However, as we are just a small household (funny that :) ) we just had one cake with a 10p baked inside it. 

Here is the recipe we followed: 

  • 350g butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 75ml brandy
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 700g mixed dried fruit
  • 50g blanched almonds, chopped
  • Marzipan
  • Royal icing (made from dried egg white and icing sugar)
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well after each addition then add the brandy. Fold-in the flour, spices, fruit and nuts. Grease a deep 25cm cake tin and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper. Tip the cake mixture into this and tap to remove any trapped air. Now add in the coin.

Place the cake in an oven pre-heated to 150°C and bake for about 2 and a 1/2 hours, or until the cake is firm to the touch. If the top of the cake darkens too quickly cover with a sheet of folded greaseproof paper about half-way through the cooking. Remove the cake from the oven, allow to cool in its tin for 30 minutes then tip onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely (this can now be covered and stored in a cake tin until needed).

Once cold cover the top surface of the cake with some of the warmed apricot preserve or apricot jam (to help the marzipan disc stick to the top of the cake). Roll out the ready made marzipan (to 5mm thick) and cut out a disc to cover the top of the cake, sticking it down with the jam. Cover with icing.

We also drank the traditonal Wassail drink of Lambswool.

  • 1.5 Litres (3 x 500ml bottles) of traditional cider
  • 6 small cooking apples, cored (Bramley apples)
  • 1 nutmeg freshly grated
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g demerara sugar

Preheat the oven 120C
Core the 6 apples. Lightly grease the baking tray. Place the apples on the baking tray about 6cm apart – they will swell up a little. Bake the apples at 120C for about an hour or so – so they become soft and pulpy and the skins are easy to peel away.
When the apples are taken out of the oven put the sugar to a large thick bottomed saucepan. Cover the sugar in a small amount of the ale (or cider) and heat gently. Stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Then add in the ground ginger and grate in the whole of the nutmeg. Stir, and keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in all the rest of the or cider. Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle heat as you deal with the apples.

Open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh, discarding the skin. Then take a fork and mash this apple pulp up, while it is still warm, into a smooth purée with no lumps. Add the apple purée into the cider lambswool, mixing it in with a whisk.
Let the saucepan continue to warm everything through for thirty minutes, on a very gentle heat, until ready to drink. When warmed through use the whisk again for a couple of minutes to vigorously froth the drink up and mix everything together. The apple and light froth will float to the surface, and depending on how much you have whisked it, the more it looks like lamb’s wool.
Grate over some nutmeg and serve. 

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