Clove-studded fruits were used in medieval times to perfume the often stale and putrid air in homes. It was thought bad smells could lead to sickness and plagues.Now we make these beautiful and fragrant Christmas decorations and leave them to warm by the fire perfuming the whole room with the scent of Christmas past and the memories that evokes.
Pomanders were first mentioned in literature in the mid-thirteenth century and often used in the late Middle Ages through the 17th century.
A very powerful version of the pomander with oranges, cloves, oils, and a golden ribbon was used as a recovery charm in witchcraft.
The pomander was worn as a protection against infection in times of pestilence and hung from a neck-chain or belt, or attached to the girdle, and were usually perforated in a variety of openwork techniques, and often made of gold or silver.
Wrap ribbon around the fruit like a parcel – dividing it into quarters – and tie in a bow.
With a small nail or biro, pierce the skin no more than ½cm apart in straight lines, swirling patterns or at random, and place a clove in each hole. If making with young children, prick the holes yourself but let them push in the spice. Make sure all of the area between the ribbons is covered.
Place your pomanders somewhere warm and dry until the orange has dried , then hang them as decorations.
Twelfth night cake – the recipe
Twelfth Night cake celebrated the last day of the festive season on 5 January when there were great feasts, of which cake was an essential part.The punch called wassail was also a main feature of the feast on Twelfth Night and although enjoyed throughout Christmas time, door-to-door wassailing (similar to singing Christmas carols) commanded ‘figgy pudding’ ( or 12th night cake) and hot punch. It is considered unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after Twelfth Night So the home should be cleaned and cleared ready for the Epiphany on 6th January which marks the day when the nativity story tells us that the wise men visited the infant Jesus.
Baked inside the cake were a dried bean and pea, one in one half and the other. Not to be confused with a standard Christmas cake, this cake had a quirky significance attached to it. Baked inside the cake were a dried bean and pea, one in one half and the other in the second half. As visitors arrived to the feast they were given a slice of cake, ladies from the left and gentleman from the right. Whoever found the bean became King of the Revels for the night and the Queen was found with the pea, gaining power to instruct all to their heart’s content. the second half.
- Butter – softened to room temperature 200g
- Dark muscovado sugar 200g
- Plain flour200g
- Eggs – 4x beaten
- Ground almond 50g
- Sherry, sweet or dry 100ml
- Candied peel, roughly chopped 85g
- Glacé cherries – roughly chopped 85g
- Raisins 250g
- Currants 250g
- Lemon zest from 1 lemon finely grated
- Mixed spice1½ tsp
- Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
- Ground nutmeg ½ tsp
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Icing of your choice: pre-made royal or buttercream
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Dried bean and a dried pea
- Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas
- Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round, 7.5 cm deep cake tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 mins until very creamy and pale in colour, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through.
- Stir in a spoonful of the flour, then stir in the beaten egg and the rest of the flour alternately, a quarter at a time, beating well each time with a wooden spoon. Stir in the almonds.
- Mix in the sherry (the mix will look curdled), then add the peel, cherries, raisins, cherries, lemon zest, spices and vanilla. Beat together to mix, then stir in the baking powder.
- Don’t forget to add in your dried bean and pea!
- Spoon mixture into the tin and smooth the top, making a slight dip in the centre.
- Bake for 30 mins, then lower temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake a further 2-2¼ hours, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin, then take out of the tin and peel off the lining paper.
- When completely cold, wrap well in cling film and foil to store until ready to decorate. The cake will keep for several months
- I like to decorate with simple icing and a crown for the king tower but it is all a matter of personal choice.
Dog in Scotland eats Christmas dinner
Curious news from Scotland, a chi apso dog, a breed of Tibetan dogs named Bubba, has eaten the whole turkey that was to be eaten at Christmas by the family.
Bubba walked into the kitchen on Christmas Eve and quietly ate the bird, which had been wrapped in tinfoil and left under a tea towel on the counter.
The dog then collapsed to the ground, unable to move after such a large meal. # A photo of Bubba lying on his side has been shared thousands of times on social media.
The photograph was posted on Twitter by owner David Barrett, who lives in Prestwick, Scotland and hasn’t eaten turkey this Christmas. Bubba might not eat one ever again though.
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