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‘Simnel’ is from the Latin ‘similis,’ as in similar or same, as the cakes were originally made with equal parts of flour and sugar.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!

 

Haitian Fried Pork with Fried Plantains

cropped-fired-pork-raw-header.jpgAnother traditional Haitian dish is fried pork. Go easy on the Scotch Bonnet pepper if you want the recipe less spicy. Add a side of fried plantains, and you’re in for a treat!

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. ~ Malachi 3:10


Fried Pork with Fried Plantains
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs pork loin or boneless pork chops
  • 1 large orange (a sour orange is best, rather than a sweet one)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups oil
  • 3 Plantains

Pork:

Cut meat into medium chunks, clean thoroughly with lime and sour orange, and rinse with cold water.

In large bowl, marinate meat with sour orange and lime halves, salt, and hot peppers for at least 1 hour.

In cast iron pot, put pork bits along with juice of the sour orange, salt, hot peppers, add 2 cups water, cover and cook on medium heat until fork tender (40 minutes).

Remove pork bits from fatty sauce and set aside. Use left-over liquid without fat for side sauce if desired.

In saucepan or deep fryer, heat 1 cup oil on medium-high heat and fry pork bits until golden brown on all side.

Remove from oil, place on absorbent paper
 
Plantains:

Preheat 1 cup oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.

Peel the plantains and cut them in half. Slice the halves lengthwise into thin pieces.

Fry the pieces until browned and tender. Drain excess oil on paper towels.

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

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

Tomorrow: Chicken Arroz Caldo

Thankful for Things to Come

cropped-intro-photo.jpg

Thanksgiving comes in many shapes and sizes. On this day before we celebrate the feast in the United States, a lot of us are thinking about food and its preparation. We may be up to our elbows in cornbread dressing, green bean casseroles, all sorts of potatoes, and pumpkin pie crust and filling.

But traditions vary across the country, so tables will be laden with tamales, exotic rice dishes, a variety of greens – spicy or tame, and special breads and desserts, as well. Instead of turkey, perhaps pork, buffalo, or goat grace Thanksgiving tables. We give thanks for the wonderful, heavenly mix of customs and rituals.

Beginning this Sunday (Advent I), we’ll post a recipe a day, plus a little background on the tradition or memories of the dish and an appropriate verse from scripture or hymns. Let us know if you whip up some of the offerings. Share your experience and photos.

The recipes we’ll be sharing here come from many cultures and regions. Look forward to Black Mushroom Rice, Soup Joumou, and Fried Pork & Plantains from Haiti, Adobong Port, Chicken Arroz Caldo, and Galilea Special Pancit from the Philippines, Roast Buffalo with Cabbage and Manoomin Salad from First Nations Kitchen in Minnesota, and Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya and Boeuf Daube from Louisiana. From Navajoland, we’ll offer recipes for Navajo Fry Bread and Blue Corn Mush. For your sweet tooth be on the lookout for Buckeye Candy from Ohio, Southern Pralines from Georgia, Coffee Cake and Baked Blueberry French Toast from New York. And don’t forget beverages – from the Dominican Republic, Louisiana, and Kansas.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to get a jump on things, you’ll find the recipes here: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources. We’ll add recipes as they become available, so keep checking the resource. You can download and print at your convenience.

So on this day before Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for what’s to come – the food, the memories, the adventure of trying something new or finding a twist on an old favorite.

Oh, and here’s our first tip: Don’t toss those leftover turkey bones. You’ll need them for our first Advent recipe, Turkey Bone Gumbo from Louisiana.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield; Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown. First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear; Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.  ~ from Come Ye Thankful People, Come by Henry Alford, 1844

 

Two Tables

 

Preparing and sharing food around a common table does more than physically nourish us and those we love. Maggy Keet demonstrates the interplay between food and faith at two tables – the altar and the kitchen table.

During the coming Advent season, we will share recipes from many cultures and traditions. It’s an invitation to try new things, and indulge in some old ones. It’s about preparing and sharing. It’s about personal and cultural memory, and it’s what feeds us body and soul.

For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things. ~ Psalm 107:9

Coming Sunday, November 20:  Stir up a traditional Christmas pudding