For the Fourth Sunday in Lent: Simnel Cake

Who knew there was a traditional dish for the fourth Sunday in Lent? Our friend, Brian Reid, from St. George’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans offers a fine tradition and recipe for Simnel Cake. From Brian:

“We launched this tradition only a couple years ago at St George’s – serving the cakes after the service on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  A few or more people will bake and bring one. This year it’s been announced that anyone can bring any cake of their choosing, and we’re making a contest out of it.

The cake is an English tradition for the fourth Sunday in Lent, known as Mothering Sunday.  In the traditional Epistle reading for that Sunday, we hear from St Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia: ‘That Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother.’ This lead to a tradition of visiting one’s mother after this particular service. Expecting their families, mothers would bake this cake to serve with tea. Another story is that serving girls on estates and in households (think, Downton Abbey) were allowed this Sunday off to visit their mothers. Yet another story is that a family would travel to its ‘Mother Church,’ or parish they were originally from, on this Sunday.

At any rate, these cakes became popular over time for that occasion midway through Lent, which was a good time to break the fasting a little.  Much like the third Sunday of Advent, ‘Stir Up Sunday,’ with its baking tradition. Indeed, the two Sundays share the rose vestments and altar dressings in many churches, including ours at St George’s.

Over time the Simnal Cake was moved to Easter and is often decorated with the marshmallow peeps and chicks our nations share. Mothering Sunday continues to be celebrated today, the forerunner of the United States’ Mother’s Day held in May.

‘Simnel’ is from the Latin ‘similis,’ as in similar or same, as the cakes were originally made with equal parts of flour and sugar. Not so here, but the attached recipe is certainly not missing any butter. Soaking the fruit in brandy was my own variation of this, my priest’s, recipe. It certainly did not hurt anything!”

Enjoy the tradition of Simnel Cake:

Ingredients:

  • One 4-ounce container red or green candied cherries, quartered (⅔ cup)
  • ¼ cup candied fruit and peel mix, excluding any cherries therein
  • 1⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1¾ cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 pound almond paste (marzipan), divided into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 egg

The Night Before Baking:

Place the candied cherries and the candied peel mix into a mesh strainer, and pour over boiling water to rinse the syrup off.  Drain well in strainer, then on a clean dish towel or paper towel.

Place the raisins and currants in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes (to plump), then drain well and dry on towels.

Place all of the drained fruits in a bowl and pour the brandy over.  Cover the bowl and let the fruit soak overnight.

Bake Day:

Preheat the oven to 300˚.  Butter an eight inch round spring-form pan.  Cut a round of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and butter the paper.  Then, dust the entire pan with the buttered paper in the bottom with flour.

Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat the eggs in one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition.  Stir the self-rising flour into the batter.  Stir the soaked fruits with the brandy into the batter, along with the lemon zest and allspice.  Pour one-half of this batter into the prepared pan.

Roll out one third of the marzipan into an eight inch circle, and place this over the batter in the pan.  Pour the remaining batter over the layer of marzipan.

Bake in the 300˚ oven for 1½ hours, or until the cake tests done.  (A toothpick or metal skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean, with only small dry bits of cake clinging to it.)  Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely.  Set the oven to broil and move the rack to a position in the oven so the cake will be about eight inches from the broiler.

Warm the apricot jam or preserves in a small saucepan, then spread over the top of the cake.  Roll out one third of the marzipan into another eight inch circle, and place this over the top of the cake.  Beat the third egg and brush this over the surface of the marzipan.  With your hands, roll the last third of the marzipan into eleven balls (representing the Twelve Disciples minus Judas).  Places the balls in a circle about one inch inside the circumference of the top of the cake, and then brush them with the beaten egg.

Place the cake under the broiler to brown the top surface of the cake, watching like a hawk!

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: Simnel Cake Recipe

 

 

 

 

Got a Recipe You’d Like to Share?

The importance of providing food for both body and soul is found throughout the Bible. Coming to the table – in whatever condition or station of life – is essential to our faith.

Make Ready The Feast is a food and faith blog looking for your recipes and traditions that highlight various seasons of the year and traditional church food events (picnics, potlucks, bake sales, church garden recipes, etc.). Appetizers, casseroles, desserts, breads, salads, healthy, not-so-healthy, regionally/ethnically/culturally specific are welcome. Recipes can serve one person or a group of people.

If you’re interested in sharing your food and faith traditions with Make Ready The Feast, please include the following information when you contact us:

  • Individual/group submitting recipe, title, parish/network/community (we’re happy to link to websites)
  • Contact email address
  • Recipe title
  • Recipe (can be an attachment; list all ingredients, how many the recipe serves, specific recipe instructions)
  • Information about the background, ethnic/cultural, or tradition of the recipe that you’d like to share (Is this a traditional dish for springtime or Easter? Is this something your grandmother used to make this time of year? Can the recipe be prepared ahead of time to use later?)
  • Photo of the dish as it’s being prepared or of the completed recipe.

Send all recipes to: Mary Brennan, mbrennan@episcopalchurch.org

We’ll reach out to you if we have questions or need more information. Cook something up for us!

 

Celebrate Epiphany Season One Last Time with King Cake for Mardi Gras

 

Brian Reid, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, shared his recipe for King Cake last month at the start of Epiphany. Enjoy the sights and sounds of New Orleans as you watch Brian create this traditional Epiphany/Mardi Gras delicacy.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: king-cake-for-epiphany

For Your Epiphany Feast: King Cake

king-cake-mainThis is an “old style” New Orleans King Cake, as it is brioche dough that is decorated.   The trend over the past couple decades has been to a sweeter, Danish pastry type dough that is decorated the same way.   But even older than both is the French Gauteau de Roi, which has been in existence for a long time, and is made by some specialty bakers in New Orleans.  This cake makes its appearance on Epiphany to help celebrate the joyous season of the many manifestations of Christ to God’s people.   In New Orleans it is a season of balls, parties, and parades, and this cake makes an appearance at all of them.  It also shows up at offices, strategically placed near the coffee maker, and the person who finds the little plastic doll tucked inside is responsible for bringing the next King Cake.

The year 1870 saw the appearance of an early New Orleans Mardi Gras organization known as the Twelfth Night Revelers.   They continue to hold their balls to this day, and choose their queen by having their debutantes select pieces from a giant cake.   The damsel who finds the golden bean in her cake will reign over the ball.

Mexico has a similar cake, presented on Twelfth Night, and the family member who finds the token in the cake is responsible for seeing the family attends the mass on Candelario, or the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2.  The presentation of the Christ child at the Temple and Simeon’s joy upon seeing Him are one of the season’s many manifestations.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (4½ teaspoons) yeast
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 to 3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Green, yellow, blue and red food coloring

The Sponge:  Combine the yeast, ¼ cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a 2 cup measure, whisking well, and set aside to allow to bubble and rise, about 10 minutes.   Meanwhile, whisk the two eggs in a mixing bowl with the ½ cup sugar, 1½ cups of flour, and the cup of milk.   When the yeast has foamed up (“proofed”, or, proven to be working) whisk it into the egg mixture to form a smooth batter.    Cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel and set it aside in a warm, draft free place until it doubles in size, about one to one and a half hours.

The Dough:  When the sponge has doubled, stir it down with a wooden spoon and stir in the melted butter, the extracts, salt and nutmeg.   Mix this well.   Then stir in the 2 to 3 cups flour, ½ cup at a time, first with the spoon and then with the hands to form a dough you can begin to knead.   Turn this dough out of the bowl, scraping the inside of the bowl, all onto a lightly floured countertop, and begin to knead.   Add sprinkles of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, but it should be slightly tacky at the end of the process.   (Do not add too much flour.)   Knead for eight to ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Place the kneaded dough in a clean, buttered bowl, turn it to coat, cover with the damp dish towel, and place in the warm, draft free place to rise until doubled, about one to two hours.  Preheat the oven to 325˚ now.

Shaping and Baking the Cake:   After the dough has risen punch it down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured countertop.   Knead the dough lightly to release any air pockets, and then divide it into three equal portions.   Cover these with the damp dish towel and allow to rest for five minutes to make the shaping easier.   After the rest roll each ball of dough into three “ropes” of one and a half foot lengths.   Place the ropes side by side, and, beginning in the center, braid them to the end.   Then, working from the other side of the ropes, braid them to the other end as well.   Form the braided ropes into a circle, and gently pinch the ends together.   Place the cake on a greased baking sheet, cover it with the damp dish towel, and allow it to rise in the warm place until puffy and nearly doubled, about a half hour.   Be sure your oven is preheated to 325˚.

Once the cake has risen beat together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water.   Remove the damp towel and brush the egg mixture carefully over the surface of the risen cake.   Then place the cake in the 325˚ oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into one of the braids comes out clean.  When done, remove the cake from the oven, let it rest on the baking sheet for several minutes, then, with a pancake turner, remove it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorating the Cake:   In a medium bowl mix together the 3 tablespoons milk, lemon juice, and 3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar.   Check the consistency, adding more sugar to assure the icing is not too runny.  It should have the consistency of corn syrup.   Pour this over the cooled cake as it sits on its rack.

Place two tablespoons sugar in each of three bowls.   To the first bowl stir in three drops green food color.   Stir in three drops of yellow food color to the second bowl of sugar.   To the third bowl stir in two drops of blue and one of red food color, to make purple.   Sprinkle these colored sugars, in sections, on the top of the iced cake.

Into the underside of the completed cake tuck a New Orleans King Cake plastic doll, or a dried bean, or a whole shelled pecan, as a favor.

The green stands for Faith, the gold for Power, and the purple for Justice.  These are the colors of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, as established by His Majesty, Rex, the King of Carnival, in 1872.

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: king-cake-for-epiphany

Merry Christmas Leek & Potato Pie

cropped-leek-and-potatoe-pie-raw-header.jpgMerry Christmas! Here’s another simple, delicious recipe from Nancy Caparulo at Wyndbourne Bed & Breakfast, Galway, New York. If you’re tired of turkey and ham, enjoy an easy Christmas feast of this pie, a side salad, and a few Christmas cookies. Cheers!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2: 8-14


Leek and Potato Pie
Serves 4 as an entree, 8 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 3 large leeks
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 pound cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 9″ pie crust
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Cut off roots and tops from leeks and leave about 2 inches green’ cut into rings and wash well.

Sauté leeks in butter for about 5 minutes

Blend cottage cheese with eggs

Add cottage cheese/eggs to potatoes and beat in sour cream, salt and cayenne

Stir in sautéed leeks and spoon into pie shell (you can freeze at this point)

Sprinkle Parmesan on top and bake at 425 degree preheated oven for about 50 minutes or until beginning to brown.

Easy, scrumptious, and freezes very well.  Just add a few minutes to cooking time straight from the freezer or add 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Submitted by: Nancy Caparulo, Finance Office, The Episcopal Church. Nancy and her husband Ralph are proprietors of Wyndbourne, a bed and breakfast inn in Galway, NY

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Soup Joumou

soup-joumou2Soup Joumou is traditionally consumed on New Year’s Day as a historical tribute to Haitian independence day in 1804 when newly freed slaves consumed the soup – a meal forbidden to them by their French masters, but we thought you might want to try it as a Christmas Eve treat to warm up your holiday. You can always make another pot for New Year’s!

O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Redeem thy captive Israel
That into exile drear is gone,
Far from the face of God’s dear Son.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


Soup Joumou
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound(s) Beef Stew Meat
  • 10 cup(s) Water
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • 2 pound(s) Pumpkin
  • 2 Peeled Carrots
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 5 Parsley Spigs
  • 1 cup(s) Diced Onions
  • 2 Peeled Turnips diced
  • 2 Potatoes Cubed
  • 1 pound(s) Cabbage chopped finely
  • 1 pound(s) Thin Spaghetti
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 Can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup(s) Tomato Sauce

In a medium pot, cook pumpkin over medium heat in 6 cups water for 30 minutes.

Puree pumpkin in the water.

While pumpkin is cooking, clean meat with lime, rinse with hot water and drain.

Marinate meat with meat rub or Rub the meat with the spice paste-scallions, onion, thyme, garlic, shallot, green pepper, salt and black pepper ground together. (For an enhanced flavor, you can marinate the meat from 1 hour up to one day in advance.)

In stockpot, add the meat with the oil and tomato paste and brown by adding small amounts of water to caramelize the meat.

Cook covered over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Add 3 cups water and puree pumpkin and bring to a boil.

Add the cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, turnips, tomato sauce, potato and parsley to the soup, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour with a whole scotch bonnet on top. (The whole scotch bonnet is for flavoring not to make the soup “hot”. Remember to find and remove the pepper as you stir the soup and remove it before it bursts.)

Add the spaghetti broken in to short pieces and cook until soft and tender.

Taste and add a minimal amount of salt, black pepper or hot pepper to taste.

Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit until ready to serve.

Submitted by: Nadyne Duverseau, Grants Officer, The Episcopal Church

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Leek & Potato Pie

St. Timothy’s Coffee Cake

cropped-timothy-coffee-cake-header-raw1.jpgBrother Aidan Owen carries on his grandmother’s tradition of making coffee cakes during this time of year:

“Along with her equally famous rum cake, my grandmother used to make dozens of these cakes each Advent and Christmas. One year we counted 65 cakes! Everyone seemed to want one. I can remember her saying, ‘I don’t know why everyone goes crazy over this cake. It’s just a plain old coffee cake.’ In some ways she was completely right, but there really is something heavenly about it.

My favorite part was always the flaky top of the cake, crunchy from the cinnamon-sugar. I’d break off small pieces of it when my grandmother’s back was turned. When she saw the pieces missing from her cakes, she’d threaten to come after me with her wooden spoon. But there was always a smile in her voice that belied her threat.

Making these cakes together became a tradition for us. My grandmother has since gone to glory, but when I make one of these cakes, she’s right by my side again.”

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain,
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign;
For the glory of the Lord
Now o’er earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall fee the token
That His Word is never broken. ~ Johannes Olearius (1611-1684)


St. Timothy’s Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans work best)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • cinnamon-sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. It’s a nice touch to add cinnamon to your flour for this step.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add nuts and raisins and coat well. Set aside.

Cream butter until light and fluffy.

Add sugar gradually and continue to cream.  Blend in vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream.  Blend well. The batter will look like whipped cream tinged with honey.

Turn batter into Bundt pan.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until cake tests done.

Leave in pan for at least one hour before turning out.  Turn out and sprinkle with more cinnamon-sugar.

Submitted by: Brother Aidan Owen, Order of the Holy Cross

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Soup Joumou