Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking is all about simple and tasty baking, a legacy from my Grandma's time as a cook-housekeeper in Edwardian times and a lifetime of baking.
As I was growing up, I watched her bake and cook, and acquired her expertise and passion for baking. Now I'm sharing Grandma Abson's traditional baking with baking devotees who remember it first time around and a whole generation new to baking. Enjoy!
Christmas celebrations in Georgian times featured Twelfth Night Cake, a rich
fruit cake which was eaten on the feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. Visitors to the
Georgian Christmas at Cusworth Hall Doncaster didn’t seem too keen to wait till
January to taste this scrumptious cake, so they had an early taste in the Great
Kitchen, along with other Georgian Christmas Baking treats. I’d adapted a recipe
from John Mollard’s 1803 edition of ‘The
Art of Cookery’ .
Twelfth Night Cake
225g/8oz dark muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 teaspoon each of mixed spice, cinnamon and ground nutmeg
225g/8oz each of raisins, currants and sultanas
50g/2oz chopped mixed peel
50g/2oz glacé cherries
50g/2oz ground almonds
the oven to 160℃/325F/Gas 3. Line
a 20 cm/8 inch round cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar together until light
and fluffy and mix in the treacle.Whisk
the eggs lightly and then add them gently to the creamed mixture, followed by
the flour and spices. Stir in the dried fruit, mixed peel, cherries and ground
almonds and mix well. Then place the mixture into the cake tin.Bake in the centre of the oven for
about 1½ hours until the cake is firm and a cake skewer inserted into the
centre comes out clean.Leave the
cake in the tin until cool then turn out and cover with foil until ready to
decorate. The cake can be decorated with marzipan and royal icing or left plain
It looks and tastes a
lot like Christmas Cake but there’s an important difference. It was the custom to bake a dried bean and pea in each side of the
cake and serve the cake in two halves one for ladies and the other for the gentlemen.
Whoever found the bean and the pea became King and Queen for the night.
We had some
visitors from Spain who told us they had the same tradition with the bean in
their splendid ‘Roscon de Reyes’.
the magnificent ‘Galette des Rois’ which is an almond cake made with puff
pastry which also has a (ceramic) bean baked inside.
It was thumbs up all
round for the Georgian Twelfth Night Cake. I think the Georgians had the right
idea just like our Spanish and French friends to round off the Christmas celebrations
with this great tradition. Once the wrapping is recycled, the decorations taken
down, and the Christmas lights switched off, throw off the gloom of January with
a piece of Twelfth Night Cake. Good luck -you could be a King or Queen for the day!