Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: Twelfth Night/Epiphany

Well, here it is: the end of the Christmas season. The three wise men have finally found baby Jesus, so we can all take down our trees now. Yes, I'm being a bit flippant. (Not that you're surprised!) It's funny how we end holiday festivities on January 1st and everyone goes back to work, but there are still four more days of Christmas left after the first of the year. Surely there's time for one more fruitcake?

I wouldn't call fruitcake a health food, but I've replaced the white flour and sugar in the original recipe with more nutritive options.

Twelfth Night Cake

1/4 lb unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup turbinado or rapadura sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle (or molasses)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sprouted whole wheat flour
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup Zante currants
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line an 8"-round cake tin. Set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and treacle then beat in the eggs and brandy. Mix in the flour, a bit at a time, along with the cinnamon and salt. Stir in the dried fruits and nuts. Spread batter into prepared tin and bake, in the middle of the oven, 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a rack 15 minutes then turn out of the pan to cool completely.

Serves 8-10

Adapted from "Twelfth Night Cake" in Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Cattern Cakes and Lace (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987), 30.

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About ingredients:
  • Where possible, everything is organic.
  • I've suggested sprouted whole wheat flour so you can get all the nutrients of the wheat without the phytic acid that blocks mineral absorption, which is prominent in unsprouted whole wheat flour.
  • I use a finely-ground sea salt.
  • If you can't find Zante currants, just use more raisins. FYI, they're not always called "Zante," either, sometimes they're just "dried currants" or plain old "currants." The term "currant," when applied to the dried fruit, is a bastardization of raisins de Corinthe, which is the French term for them. They're actually dried grapes and not dried redcurrants or blackcurrants. Go figure!
Back in 2010, I made wassail and mincemeat tarts for Twelfth Night. I still haven't managed to get those twelve pipers...

Submitted to:
Simple Lives Thursday
Foodie Friday
Fight Back Friday
Monday Mania
Fat Tuesday
Traditional Tuesdays
Real Food Wednesday


  1. Going to a 12th night party on Saturday--never been to one. I'm bringing a cheese ball. That's still a little holiday-ish, right?

  2. its always so sad when the holiday season is officially over. I love all the specialness and festive feeling to it.Although we literally took our tree down christmas day ;) mainly because we put out house on the market the other day and didnt want the holiday stuff out.This cake looks really good! I love stuff like this for breakfast :)

  3. @Heather
    I have to admit, I've been eating it for breakfast! Good luck with the house!

  4. I am still holding out for Epiphany tomorrow when we take our decorations down....the dates are so confused, but we always go by the 6th January! However, I am happy to share some of your cake with you today! WONDERFUL post as usual!

  5. I love currants and golden raisins, so I'd probably like this. For whatever reason I didn't get to sample any fruitcake this Christmas and of course, that meant, that I was pining for some. :)

  6. @Karen S Booth
    We usually wait until Epiphany, as well. I just wanted to do one post for both holidays, since they're on consecutive days.

  7. @Yvette
    I didn't get any fruitcake this year, either! I had to remedy the situation.

  8. I'm glad you were able to remedy the fruitcake situation. I'm sure your dad wishes you had been able to remedy it while you were here! I've still not had a fruitcake I like and I'm not there to try yours...are you bringing me some?

  9. @Lori
    It won't last that long! I could always make you another one, though. :-)

  10. This looks great. I love your replacements ideas. Yum.

  11. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! The fruitcake looks good and yes, it is interesting about the twelve days of Christmas. I wonder when this tradition ended? Maybe it is still a custom in England. Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

  12. My tree and decorations will probably stay up through the month--maybe well into February. I like the way they look. Probably won't make fruitcake, but I might make more cookies. I'm all for extending the holiday season, especially once the commercialized shopping aspect is over!

  13. Absolutely - there is always time for another fruitcake. I haven't even posted mine yet as I have been away and don't have the recipe with me. This sounds like a nice cake - the molasses would give it a lovely treacly flavour.

  14. YEah! somebody else who understand Chirsmtas isn't over til the 6th!
    Great recipe - would make a lovely breakfast with fresh whipped cream!

  15. I am just now reading this (5-3-12): Epiphany, ending the twelve days of Christmas, is January 6. Christmas is not over until that day.

    1. The first day of Christmas is the 25th, making January 5th the twelfth day/night. Epiphany, January 6th, is not one of the twelve days of Christmas, but technically a separate feast day that's still rather Christmas-y. I usually conflate the two since Twelfth Night runs right into Epiphany.


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