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Perhaps the reason for it all! Holidays provided a good excuse to look out for others and to see that even the poorest members of the  community were fed and rewarded for their work in the past season.  Foods must be warm and to a certain extent transportable in the hands of the wassailers. Enjoy these traditional favorites!   One important recipe is that for 12th cake or 12th loaf A.K.A. 12th bread!  It is not the Lousiana King Cake!  It is the 12th cake/loaves mentioned by  Dickens. I provide some recipes below......including a recipe for white bread  toast!    Eat Well! 
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Main Menu- Feed your Wassailers well!
Shepherd's Pie Handwarmer Pies Lobscouse Mini Yorkshire Pudding Christmas Pudding
12th Cake 12th Cake Primary Sompting Village Morris
12th Fertility Cake
English Country White Bread Wigs
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Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's dont herd cows so this is made with lamb of course!!!!
Quantities: use quantities such that they will fit into your pan or bowl.
Meat should take up two thirds
with potato on the top third..
        1. Brown sufficient chopped  lamb- enough so that when cooked down it will fill your baking container 1/3 to top.
            Remember that the lamb will shrink down  by 1-2/3 depending on fat content. (I prefer chopped to ground. Using
            two cleavers chop slices of boned leg of lamb until pieces are about the size of a pea. Do not remove fat.) Fry lamb,
            pepper, salt, and garlic to taste a frying pan till medium brown (fat should be a darker brown). Just before done add
            finely chopped onion to taste. Cook onions till just transparent.  Do not drain off the fat. When done add  sufficient flour to make a
            thick roux. (about as much flour as oil in the pan). Let flour cook till slightly brown. Slowly add milk while mixing
            quickly. Add only enough milk to make very thick -the consistancy of mashed potato. Onions (to taste) should be shopped fine and
            cooked till transparent. Add salt and pepper to taste. The meat mixture should be quite flavorful as it will
            be mixed with potatos.

        2.  Mash white potatoes. Add a good quantity of butter and  may add grated chedar cheese to taste if  fancy. I
             added one stick 1/4 pound of butter to a pot of potatos. While mashing add a bit of milk but the potatoes should
             be thick rather than runny or fluffy. I use an electric mixer and whisk beating till stiff and smooth.

        3. Place meat and gravy mixture into an oven proof container.The meat should come up to about 1/3 of the top.

         4. Place potato over the meat. Potato should come to the top of the container. Pack down. Score the top with a fork
             or make ridges with a knife at different angles. Brush with melted butter.

         5. Bake in hot 400 degree oven until potato is browned  to a medium brown. Potato should not be too wet. The
             dish does well kept in a warm oven for a while after initial browning. An hour or so. Serve hot.

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Handwarmer Pies
Small crusty pies with a meat ball inside not to wet and runny serve with chutney!

A standard small meat pie- I make about 12-20 of these and
stack them on a tray keeping them warm in the oven.

1. ground beef- use regular raw ground beef  mixed with sauted onions-
onions should be sauted until transparent add spices- salt, pepper, thyme to taste....
(any kind of ground meat will do!). Add about a cup of ice water per pound and
mix with a mixer or by hand till it is well encorported into the meat. Do not use too
much water just enough to smooth out the meat mixture. It should be dry enough
to form into balls.

2. Make a Pastry dough.
    5 oz lard to 1 lb. flour.
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Place 1/2 flour in bowl then add lard (cut into pieces) mix thoroughly till lard
and flour are completely blended mixture will be a coarse texture pieces like
rice rather than pea in size. While mixing fast add water slowly. Be careful
not to add too much- just enough to have a mixture which sticks together.
This is critical. Using an electric mixer and a paddle blade run this at high speed.
Test the mixture after about 5-8 minutes. It may not have formed into one ball.
It is done when it is stiff and just to the point of being slightly elastic. It should
resist a bit when pieces are broken off the ball. If you have the time cool the
Roll out the paste until thin about 1/8 inch thick. Do not use too much flour
but do try to fold the sheet over on itself once or twice before cutting out.
Using a round cutter- I used a 3-4 inch wide plastic cup rim cut rounds and
stack them up with a little dusting of flour inbetween.

Bring out the meat mixture. Flour board and roll out a round a bit further
slightly elongating it. Using a tablespoon place a heaping spoonful of meat mixture onto
each round, moisten the edges fold over and crimp to seal.

Place on oiled cookie sheet.

Beat eggs and brush the surface of each pie thoroughly with the egg.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake for about an hour. Test to
be sure that the meat is done and that bottoms of pies are brown.
If you add veg (carrots, celery) it will take a bit longer.

Serve hot with mango chutney on the side.Also good with tomato catsup or bar-b-que sauce.

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Lobscouse (Sailor's Stew) -
I include this due to the following reference:
In Cumberland and other northern parts of England on Twelfth Night, which finishes the Christmas Holidays the rustics meet together in a large room. They begin dancing at seven o' clock, and finish at twelve, when they sit down to lobscouse and ponsondie; the former is made of beef,potatoes, and onions, fried together; and in ponsondie we recognise the wassail or waes-hael of ale, boiled with sugar and nutmeg, into which are put roasted apples; the anciently admired lamb's-wool.  The feast is paid for by subscription..(of the participants).- Time's Telescope, 1825, p. 13
Theselton Dyer,British Popular Customs Past and Present., London, George Bell and Sons, 1876, (Apple Tree reprint.) pp.27-29.
Webster notes that Scouse is without meat Lobscouse with meat. This text refers to fried others to stew others to baked and still another to
what is now know as hash. To be truly nautical your meat should be corned or preserved beef. One reference from a soldier's diary/letters
says that it is made with biscut crushed up and added to fatty meat and whatever veg was available.


     4 tablespoons butter
     1½ lbs beef cut into 1" cubes
     3 medium chopped onions
     3 cups beer (2 cans)
     3 cups beef stock(made from concentrate cubes)
     1 teaspoon salt
     12 fresh ground black pepper corns
     2 bay leaves
     6 medium Idaho potatoes peeled and cut into 1" cubes
     6 tablespoons butter (yes, more but optional)
     3 tablespoon chopped green onion tops(optional)

Brown meat and cook onions in the butter, stirring occasionally. Add stock, beer, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer for 2 hours. Mash any remaining pieces of potato, so that you have a thick 'gravy' with just a few pieces of potato. Serve in bowl with 1 tablespoon butter on top. Sprinkle with onion tops.

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Mini Yorkshire Pudding with Sausage or toad in the hole

Another warm treat. You can subsititute the sausage with a piece of
carrot for the vegetarians...

1. Fry sufficient sausage such that you have enough length to put an inch
or so of sausage in every hole. With ground sausage make small balls about
1/2 inch to inch in diameter. Fry till browned.

2. Grease and set asside muffin tins. I use 2 recipies which makes about 24 muffins.

3. In a bowl mix with mixer-
2 eggs
1 cup milk
a few grindings of pepper
a pinch of mace
1/2 teaspoon Salt
-mix till frothy

4. add 1 cup all purpose flour and continue mixing add 1
cup milk slowly while mixing and mix till creamy and smooth.

5. Refrigerate batter for one hour or more.

6. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

7. Pour batter to 1/3-1/2 way fill muffin tin. Insert 1 inch piece of browned
sausage into center of batter in tin standing up or just toss in the meatball into the center.

8. Bake in oven till well browned.

Serve hot!

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Christmas Pudding
Plum Pudding
I always have a small pudding for wassail before Christmas
and a large one with Christmas dinner.

1  1/2 cups dried currants
2 cups sedless raisins
2 cups white raisins
1/4 cup finely chopped candied mixed fruit peel (I do this fine in a food processer)
3/4 finely chopped candied cherries
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 medium sized tart cooking apple peeled quartered, cored and coarsely chopped
1 small carrot scraped and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 pound finely chopped beef suet
2 cups all purpose flour
4 cups fresh shoft crumbs made from homemade type white
bread pulverized in a food processor
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup brandy
1/4 cup fresh  lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup brandy for flaming

1. Combine currants, seedless raisins, white raisins, candied fruit peel, cherries,
almonds, apple ,carrot, orange and,  lemon peel and beef suit in a bowl mixing well.

2. stir in flour bread crumbs, brown sugar allspice and salt.

3. beat eggs in another bowl till frothy

4. Stir in one cup brandy, orange and lemon juice and knead till well mixed.

5. refrigerate covered with a damp towell for at least 12 hours.

6. Put mixture into 1 court pudding basins (I find any glass baking bowl will do
- they should have an external ridge around which you can tie a string.

7. Pack the mixture down well and cover with a piece of metal foil.

8. Place a towel over the bowl and tie it down around the rim with a piece of twine.
Bring the corners of the towel up to the top of the bowl and tie them in the center.

9. Put bowl into a larger pot filled with water up to 2/3 up the sides of the pudding bowl
. Boil covered for 8 hours. Then remove pudding from water bath and store till needed- hopefully about 3 weeks.

10. when ready to serve steam for 2 hours .

12. Unmold pudding onto plate. Pour heated brandy over it and light. Careful!

13. Serve with brandy butter. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened,
1/2 cup superfine sugar, 3 tablespoons brandy, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Cream the sugar in the butter add extract and brandy and chill.

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English Twelfth Cake  (most accurate-primary)

1/4 cup white rum
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup currants
3 tablespoons diced citron
2 tablespoons diced candied orange peel
1 cup sweet butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 dried pea
1 dried bean
Golden Almond Icing (see below)

Combine rum with raisins, currants and candied fruits. Let
to soak for one hour. Drain keeping fruit and rum. Cream
butter with sugar till light/fluffy.  Add eggs one by one. Beat
well inbetween. Add milk and 2 tablespoons of the saved
rum and almond extract and beat in. Place fruits in a little
of the flour until coated lightly. Sift the remaining flour with spices and
mix beating, into the batter. Add the fruits, nuts and grated lemon rind,
the pea and the bean. Mix well folding.

Bake in a 9 inch round cake or loaf pan. Butter the pan and line it with
buttered brown paper. Bake in preheated 275 degree oven for
2 hours or till a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool cake until
it comes away from pan sides. Put on rack take off paper
cool completely and ice. Let stand till icing hardens or

Golden Almond Icing

2/3 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweet softened butter
1/4 cup white rum
2 egg yolks
1-2 drops almond extract (to taste)

Combine ingredients and beat strongly using
wooden spoon. Mixture should be creamy, light yellow and soft.
Spread over a cool cake. Let harden overnight.

The dried bean  should be put in  the batter on one side of the cake layer, and a dried pea on the
 other.  When serving the cake, cut it into equal slices, giving
 pieces from the bean side to the  male guests, and from the pea
 side to  the female guests.
 The man who finds the bean  will be King of
 the Feast - he will  choose the  games and songs.
 The woman with the pea   will  be the  queen.

- Twelfth Night cake is usually a rich, dense fruitcake which contains both a bean and pea. The man who finds the bean is the King, the woman who
     finds the Pea is the Queen. But if a woman finds the bean, she can choose the King, while the man who finds the pea can choose the Queen. The royal pair then direct the
     rest of the company in merriment. Revelers are assigned  ludicrous tasks or require them to behave in ways that were not in keeping with  their usual roles.

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Twelfth Night Cake  #2

 2 cups butter or margarine, softened
 16 oz. brown sugar
 8 large eggs
 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 2 teaspoons ground mace
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 2 oz slivered almonds
 15 oz raisins
 10 oz currants
 1/2 cup chopped candied citron
 1/2 cup chopped candied lemon peel
 1 dried bean (optional)
 1 dried pea (optional)
 12 oz can apricot filling

 2/3 cup water
 1/4 cup commercial meringue powder
 16 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
 1-1/4 cup shortening
 3/4 teaspoon  salt
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
 1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring

 Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy;
 gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time,
 beating after each addition.  Combing 3 cups flour and next 3
 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture. Mix at low speed just
 until blended after each addition.  Combine remaining 1/4 cup flour,
 almonds, and next 4 ingredients; stir into a batter.  Put  batter
 into 3 greased and wax paper-lined 9-inch round cake pans.
 Drop dried bean in batter on one side of a cake layer and
 a dried pea on opposite side. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or
 until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in
 pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and let cool
 completely on wire racks. Spread apricot filling between cake
 layers.  Put  white buttercream frosting on top and sides of
 cake. Decorate,  if desired.

 Combine water and meringue powder in a large bowl; beat at high
 speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add
 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating at low speed after
 each addition. Add remaining sugar alternately with shortening,
 beating after each addition. Stir in salt and flavorings. Yield:
 7 cups.

 The dried bean  should be put in  the batter on one side of the cake layer, and a dried pea on the
 other.  When serving the cake, cut it into equal slices, giving
 pieces from the bean side to the  male guests, and from the pea
 side to  the female guests.
 The man who finds the bean  will be King of
 the Feast - he will  choose the  games and songs.
 The woman with the pea   will  be the  queen.

- Twelfth Night cake is usually a rich, dense fruitcake which contains both a bean and pea. The man who finds the bean is the King, the woman who
     finds the Pea is the Queen. But if a woman finds the bean, she can choose the King, while the man who finds the pea can choose the Queen. The royal pair then direct the
     rest of the company in merriment. Revelers are assigned  ludicrous tasks or require them to behave in ways that were not in keeping with  their usual roles.

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A Good English Country White Bread
This is for the toast which is floated in the Wassail, dipped into it and placed on the apple trees for good luck.
I do not have a traditional recipe for this. English white bread is generally not as light as french bread but not
as heavy as Italian or as rich as Dutch white bread. I give you "English Cottage Loaf"
If you have a traditional wassail bread "toast" recipe please let me know!
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4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast
1 cup water


Sift flour and salt. Put in large bowl. Dislove the yeast in warm watter with 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
When the yeast is a frothy sponge pour it gently into the flour. Make sure you get it all in.
Mix all of this up with a wooden spoon. Add a 1/2 pint of warm watter while you mix.
Mix till it becomes a dough and then knead until it is smooth and springy. Let rise until
doubled. Punch down and break off a piece of dough about 4-5 ox. in weight or just less than
half the size of the other piece. Make both into balls. Flatten the top of the big one slightly.
Flatten the bottom of the smaller one slightly. Put the small one on top of the large one.
Flour a finger and push it through the top ball into the bottom one. This will attach them. Put on
baking sheet, leave to prove and then  bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn oven down
to 375 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. Loaf should be brown and hollow when tapped.

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Sompting Village Morris (West Sussex, UK) on their Twelfth Night Wassail, with a promise - well, an
allegation -  that it will bring fertility:

Honey, Apple and Cider Cake
(quantities are in Imperial measures. Americans will have to translate. So
will Europeans. In fact, most people...what the hell, this is traditional!)

1 lb peeled and chopped eating apples
8 oz raisins
16 fluid oz cider
4 teaspoons baking powder
12 oz self-raising flour
12 oz softened butter
8 tablespoons slightly warmed set honey
8 medium eggs

Line a 12-inch square baking tin. We use a special one with a hole in the
base, so that the cake can be carried on the end of a spear in the
Set oven to gas mark 4 (180 degrees C, 350 degrees F)
Pour cider into a saucepan, add raisins, bring to boil and remove from heat.
Add chopped apple, cool.
Cream butter and honey together in a large bowl, then add eggs gradually,
beating well.
Sieve flour and baking powder together.
Add half the flour and fold in to the bowl.
Add half the cooled cider mixture.
Fold in the remaining flour, then the rest of the cider.
Pour into baking tin.
Bake on middle shelf of oven for about an hour.
Test with a needle to see if centre is cooked. Cake should still feel quite

Recipe provided by Marjorie Clarke

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Although Wigs are generally associated with Lent ( Elizabeth David, English Bread and Yeast Cookery., Viking, New York, 1980pp 484-87)
Wigs or (Wiggs) Are associated by Mimi Sheraton with "the wassail bowls of Shropshire" in which they are floated as toast.  (Mimi Sheraton, Visions of Sugarplums.,Random House, 1968, pp. 23-4.) So we shall include her recipe here.


4 envelopes dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half (milk and cream)
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch each of mace and cloves
1 tablespoon caraway seeds lightly crushed
7-8 cups flour or as needed
1 egg well beaten.

Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm water, add 1 tablespoon sugar and set aside in a warm place for
5-10 minutes or until foamy.Scald half and half and add butter, stirring until it melts.  Remove
from heat and add remaining sugar, salt, spices and caraway seeds; cool to lukewarm.  Combine
with yeast mixture nad gradually stir in flour until dough is smooth and not sticky but still soft
and pliable.  Knead for 10 minutes or until shiny and elastic.  Place dough in a floured bowl,
dust top with flour, cover loosely and set to rise in a draft-free corner until double in bulk about
1-1/2 hours.  Punch dough down, knead for 2-3 minutes and let dough rest for 5-10 minutes.
Divide dough into 6 pieces and shape these into large round slightly flat buns. Place buns 4
inches apart on a well-buttered baking sheet nad cut a deep cross into the top of each bun
so that it can later be divided into triangular quarters.  Cover loosely and set to rise until double
in bulk- 30-45 minutes.  Brush with beaten egg and bake in pre heated 400 degree oven for
10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350- degrees and bake 15 minutes longer, or until golden brown
and hollow-sounding when tapped.

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