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Catholic Recipe: St. Catherine's Wigs


  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 5 Tablespoons warm water (105°-115°)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 7/8 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon mace
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • Details

  • Yield: 12 wigs
  • Prep Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: England

With fashion decreeing wigs a must, you'll be right in style with the recipe that ties in with the saint for November 25. You might even surprise your hairdresser as well as the family with these picturesquely named treats.

This beautiful 18-year-old girl of Alexandria, Egypt, was martyred for her faith. Intellectuals of her time were so upset by the brilliance of her mind that she was called on to define Catholic truths before fifty pagan philosophers. So completely did she confound them with her eloquence and logic that they demanded her death by torture. But before she could be harmed by the spiked wheel on which she was tied, it miraculously fell apart. Undaunted, her persecutors then scourged and imprisoned her and finally had her beheaded.

Catherine is the patron saint of philosophers, lacemakers, spinners, and even spinsters. On her anniversary, the Lace Makers Feast is still celebrated in England, and buns called St. Catherine's Wigs are served. The name, according to citizens of Bedfordshire, came about because the batter, baked in round tins, curled over the sides like the curls of a wig. Oddly enough, you'll find the recipe makes dough, not batter, and the buns must be shaped by hand and baked on a baking sheet.


Dissolve yeast in warm water; add 1 tablespoon sugar; stir; set aside for 15 minutes. Scald milk; add butter or margarine and 1/4 cup sugar. Sift together flour, salt, and spices; add caraway seeds. When milk has cooled to lukewarm add yeast mixture; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Knead dough from 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic; place in greased bowl; cover; let rise in warm place (85°) until double (about 1 hour). Divide dough into 12 portions; form each into large flat bun. Place on greased baking sheet; brush tops lightly with egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water. Cut deep cross on each bun so that baked wig can be broken into quarters. Let rise in warm place until double. (Do not cover with towel.) Bake at 400° for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 375°; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until thoroughly done inside and well browned outside. Makes 12 wigs.

Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965
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