Saturday, January 5, 2013

12th Night

Twelfth Night :

January 5th

A lot of our Christmas activity used to be celebrated on Twelfth Night which has disappeared from most calendars, along with many of its traditions -- plays, parties, cake, wassailing and presents .

Twelfth Night is the evening of the 5th of January. It's the day the Christmas decorations are put away, and in many parts of the UK, the day to wassail your apple trees (you slog out to the orchards even if it is muddy, drink a toast of apple cider to the trees, then pour cider over the roots.)

Just as Christmas absorbed the traditions of Twelfth Night, Twelfth Night, in turn, had acquired all the festivities of the Roman Saturnalia (which was roughly the 17th of December.) The Romans had a tradition of placing a bean inside a cake at Saturnalia, and whoever found it became the master of ceremonies. This tradition became part of Twelfth Night,

In the UK, the Twelfth Night Cake was like what we now call Christmas Cake. There would be a dried bean and a dried pea in it. They then got to make people at the party do silly things. In the early 1800s, Twelfth Night Cake was frosted with fancy trimmings and decorated with small figurines made of sugar paste.

In Italy and New Orleans, Twelfth Night is still considered the start of Carnival Season. The Italians make foccaia bread instead, hiding in it 4 beans: 3 white ones for the magi, and 1 black one. Whoever finds the black one is the master of ceremonies and can choose his Queen. 

Twelfth Night Cake


1cupbutteror margarine
3tablespoonsorange juice, concentrated
2teaspoonsorange zestgrated
1/2teaspoonvanilla extract
4largeeggs(room temp)
4eachegg yolks(room temp)
1 1/2cupsflour, all-purposesifted
1tablespoonpowdered sugar

Combine butter, juice concentrate, rind, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring, until butter is melted. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.
Place eggs, egg yolks and sugar in large bowl; beat until tripled in volume.
Sprinkle flour and cornstarch over eggs.  Add orange mixture; fold in very gently until there is no trace of butter mixture.
Pour into greased 9 inch tube pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until cake starts to come away from sides of pan. Cool. Remove from pan.
Sprinkle top of cake with powdered sugar.
Garnish sides of cake with orange slices if desired.

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