No special occasion is complete without a centrepiece and there is no better centrepiece than a beautiful cake that reflects the sentiment of the occasion. Here are a few of my favourites.
Easter Simnel cake:
The name simnel probably comes from the ancient Roman word simila, meaning fine flour. Simnel cakes were often used to celebrate the end of lent. This light fruit cake would have been a welcome addition designed to line the stomach after fasting during Lent . The top of the cake would be decorated with a layer of marzipan on which sits eleven marzipan balls representing the apostles excluding Judas and a ball in the centre to represent Christ.
Sadly this cake has now been overtaken by Chocolate cakes representing bunnies and eggs.
Valentine’s Day originated as a liturgical celebration to honor a Christian saint known as Valentinus. There are many theories for how valentine’s day started but one of my favourite is that the was a man who had been performing illegal weddings and taking care for Christians. He was captured and locked up by the Romans. It is believed that he healed the daughter of his jailer and sent her a letter signed “Your Valentine’.
As food is symbolic of love and romance a cake is the perfect way to express your love. Traditionally the colours and symbols of love are flowers especially roses and hearts particularly red ones.
Halloween – Scary cakes
According to gastronomist Sarah Lohman Halloween has its roots in the Catholic church. It would have began as ‘All Hallows Eve which honoured the souls of the dead who still walked the earth. People dressed up to hide themselves from these ghouls , they left food at there front door to keep them away. Sarah believed that ‘Soul cake may have been the preferred food at this time. Soul cake was made with saffron, currants and expensive spices and meant to honor the dead. This went on to be a treat for beggars who would knock on the doors of the rich, offering to pray for their households deceased in return for some tasty cakes.
Instead of saying ‘Trick or treat’ they would say ‘ A soul cake, a soul cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake!
Christmas cake started out originally as plum pudding or twelth night cake and was eaten on Christmas eve. During the 16thcentury the oats were replaced with butter, flour wheat and eggs at this time it was still boiled like a pudding as only the wealthy could afford ovens. It became Christmas cake when the dried fruit were added together with spices to represent the spices the maji brought. By the 1830s the cake was eaten in and around Christmas day Wealthier families started to wrap their cakes in marzipan and the Victorians started decorating it with winter snow scenes.
This year as you celebrate your special occasion with cake spare a thought for the traditions behind the cake and the memories you are creating in the moment.
It looks like the sun will be shining for the next few days so tomorrow I am going to share with you my 3 favourite picnic cakes. Have a wonderful day x