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Catholic Recipe: Wiltshire Whitsuntide Cake

    INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 lb small tart green gooseberries
  • 5 elderflower blossoms*
  • 1/2 lb plain wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz pale muscovado sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Flowers & leaves to garnish
  • Details

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: England

For Pentecost, or Whitsunday as it is known in Great Britain, everyone ate the food he had brought and purchased "Whitsun ale."

The Whitsun Ales, so called by the people, had their origin in the agapae or love feasts of the early Christians, and the drink was made by the churchwardens who bought the malt and brewed it in advance. The profits of these Ales were given to the poor, according to a Christian rule that all profits would be spent in alms.

In addition to ale, custards, cheese cakes, and huge roasts were typical of this feast in England, and another favored dish was Gooseberry Pudding. The following Peasant Soup is another old English recipe for this feastday.

DIRECTIONS

*Note: A handful of sweet geranium or lemon balm leaves may be substituted for elderflower blossoms if desired.

Top and tail the gooseberries into a mixing bowl. Add the finely chopped leaves or the florets of elderflower carefully stripped from the stalk, and stir to mix with the fruit. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Cut then rub in the butter. Stir in the muscovado sugar then the lightly beaten eggs. Finally, stir in the gooseberries and their flavourings.

Grease the base of an 8-inch spring-clip cake tin, line and grease again. Turn the cake mixture into it and mound it up in the middle. Bake at 350° F for about 1 1/2 hours. Unlike most cakes, this one does not come away from the sides of the tin when it is cooked.

Cool for a few minutes before unmoulding. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and decorate with fresh elder blossom or sweet geranium or melissa leaves, and serve the deliciously moist cake while it is still warm — as a pudding, with plenty of cream.

Recipe Source: Country Living by Philippa Davenport, Unknown, June 1988
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