The Twelve Cakes of Christmas
An evolutionary history, with recipes
Helen Leach, Mary Browne, Raelene Inglis
* Accessible well-illustrated food history
* Includes 12 historic Christmas cake recipes adapted for today's cooks
* Plus hints for ensuring your Christmas cake is rich and moist!
* From the authors of The Pavlova Story
Many popular recipes come from lineages that can be traced back for decades, even centuries. Festive cakes have been made in December for at least two thousand years. Using archaeological evidence and ancient books, the authors define the key ingredients of the cakes that would eventually be served on Twelfth Night, at the end of the Christmas season. From 17th century English cookbooks, they identify recipes that would have been made as twelfth cakes, full of expensive ingredients like raisins, almonds, sweet wine and candied peel, but made like fruit-breads, with yeast.
In the 18th century, a revolution in mixing occurred. Ingredient proportions followed the new pound cake principle, and for the first time butter and sugar were creamed together. The Victorian age saw Twelfth Night customs give way to those associated with Christmas Day. The first English recipe to be called 'Christmas Cake' was Mrs Beeton's. In the colonies, growing demand for rich Christmas cakes resulted in the renaming of a range of recipes. Plum cakes, rich fruit cakes and wedding cakes were all co-opted as Christmas cakes.
The Christmas cakes of the 20th century are a special focus of this book. Nine cake recipes feature here, four derived from pound cakes, and five highlighting new methods of mixing or new ingredients. Their family histories are tracked, but the authors also show how New Zealand cooks modified each recipe and developed new variations.
1 In search of the 17th century Twelfth Cake – Sir Kenelm Digby's recipe
2 18th century Twelfth Cakes – Hannah Glasse's recipe
3 From Twelfth Cake to Christmas Cake – Isabella Beeton's recipe
4 Christmas Cakes in the 20th century: facts and figures
5 Christmas Cakes from the last hundred years – Nine historic cake recipes with photographs
Notes / Bibliography / Index
Helen Leach is an Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago. Her research interests include the evolution of human diet and prehistoric horticulture. Her book, The Pavlova Story, was shortlisted in the Montana NZ Book Awards 2009.
Mary Browne is a leading food writer who updated and photographed twelve classic pavlova recipes for The Pavlova Story.
Raelene Inglis is a researcher in food history. Her earlier investigations into Christmas cakes with Helen created the database from which this book has grown.
‘Once you have got your mouth watering – and it will be – you can then turn an entertaining history in to a practical cook book. No stone is left unturned – there is even a history of royal icing and instructions for how to make your own. ... Fun, enlightening, and filling. A perfect Christmas treat.’ – D-Scene, 21 December 2011
Feature aricles also appeared in the Otago Daily Times, Sunday Star Times, Timaru Herald, again in the ODT, on Radio NZ and Stuff.co.nz, and The Listener
In-store: Nov 15 2011
Hardback, 240 x 170 mm, 192 pp approx, b/w and colour throughout
ISBN 978 1 877578 19 9, $40.00 / £24.50 UK