The History of a Christmas Cake

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THE HISTORY OF A CHRISTMAS CAKE

THE HISTORY OF A CHRISTMAS CAKE

Added 237 days ago. 23 November 2023

This Christmas staple was once very different to the treat we know today. Find out how it became everyone's favourite festive bake.

Humble beginnings

Christmas cake began life in the Middle Ages - as plum porridge! Christmas Eve was a day of religious fasting, and this was a hearty meal afterwards, with a consistency more like that of a pottage or soup, made of boiled beef, fruit and spices, then thickened with bread and oats. Around the 16th century, the oats or bread were replaced with butter, eggs and flour, evolving it, unmistakably into cake. 

A hidden suprise

Twelfth Night (5th January) soon became the time of year for festive fruitcakes. It was customary to hide a bean in one half and a pea in the other - the finder of the bean would be the King of the Revels, and the finder of the pea would be the Queen of the Twelfth Night! A great thrill if you were a servant.

Did you know?

A change of date

Queen Victoria banned the Twelfth Night celebrations for being non-Christian, but much to the delight of confectioners, the popular Twelfth Cake was reinvented as Christmas cake. The custom of putting tokens into the mix moved to the Christmas pudding, with Christmas cake becoming more of an afternoon tea affair, much beloved by the Victorians.

Christmas Cake

To top it all off...

Wealthy families would already top their cake with almond and sugar paste, and from the 18th century, royal icing too, so named as the Royal Family used it for their wedding cakes. Large elaborate sugar designs became fashionable as a way of showing how much money you had!

Fancy some cake? 

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