Monday, April 30, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: Beltane/May Day

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,/
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.
-Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven"

Beltane was one of the pre-Christian Quartering Days along with Lughnasadh, Samhain and Imbolc. Unlike the other three celebrations, Beltane wasn't turned into a Christian festival.* However, the beginning of May remained a festival day, shedding its pagan past but retaining the more secular celebration of the end of cold, dreary weather and the coming of summer. I might not have a maypole to dance around, but I'm (flower) crowning myself an unofficial May Queen and having a nice scone to top it off.

While doing some Beltane/May Day online research, I came across's Paganism/Wicca site, which has a recipe for Beltane Bannocks, which are made with oats instead of barley like the bannocks I made last year. Beltane Bannocks, if eaten on the morning of May 1st, will supposedly guarantee abundant livestock and crops. Since I don't have any livestock or crops to worry about, I thought I'd make something a bit fancier:

Cinnamon Raisin Oat Scones

1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup rolled oats (also called "old fashioned")
1/2 cup sprouted whole-wheat flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sucanat, rapadura or muscovado sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup demerara or turbinado sugar

Cover the steel-cut oats with buttermilk and leave to soak for twenty minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rolled oats, flours, baking soda and powder, salt and sucanat. Rub in the softened butter until well-combined. Add the soaked steel-cut oats and the buttermilk and stir to combine then stir in the raisins. Form dough into a ball and place in the middle of the baking sheet. Flatten to 3/4" thickness. Score into 8 wedges with a knife (don't cut all the way through).

Sift cinnamon over the top of the scones then sprinkle over the demerara sugar. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the outer edges of the scones are golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Serves 8

Adapted from "Scottish Buttermilk Oat Scones" by Bob's Red Mill.


*Victoria Lambert, "Beltane: Britain's Ancient Festival is Making a Comeback" in The Telegraph 27 April 2012,
Maypole source 
If you're one of the two people haven't heard "Stairway to Heaven:"
Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin on Grooveshark


  1. Oh! This painting is so gorgeous! Love. And that scone looks fantastic too. I love when you get all historical over here :) Yay for May!~

    Also-- I was curious if your email address on this site is correct? I'd emailed you a while back about Lindsborg but didnt hear from you. :)

    1. I just sent you an e-mail back. So sorry about that! I realized that I'd commented on your blog instead of replying by e-mail. I don't know how I thought you'd know that I'd actually gotten the e-mail...

  2. I love these scones! Cinnamon raison anything immediately has my attention. In the part of Germany where I live, if a boy has a crush on you, you will wake up today with a decorated May tree on your roof. He has to stay up there all night to make sure no rivals take it down and put up their own. My husband surprised me with one last year. Local custom!

    1. How fun! I didn't know anything about this custom until I read your comment. I love learning about traditions. Sounds like your husband is a sweetie.

  3. That scone looks fabulous - I need one with my tea this afternoon!

  4. Gosh this looks so good! (I'm happy to have this reaction since it means I've recovered from the sick bug!) It seems kind of like a soda bread with oats? Which reminds me it's been ages since I made soda bread and since I had buttermilk regularly in the fridge!

    Oh and by the way I have never, ever made any kind of scone before - I need to change that, don't I?


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