There’s no getting round my serious lack of commitment this Michaelmas Eve. Oh, I made a struan Micheil after 8hrs hunched over my computer. And I chanted progeny and prosperity of family, Mystery of An Dagda, protection of Bride, as I kneaded it and progeny and prosperity to clans Frank, Watson, Walker and Howarth, Mystery of An Dagda, shielding of Bride as I shaped it. And I marked it with a heart. And I nearly set off the fire alarm for the second time tonight burning the offering on the hob before chanting here to thee, rascal; stay behind me, stay from my kine, rascal being the Devil, and throwing the smouldering lump over my shoulder into the sink.
Yes I did all that, but it felt like my heart wasn’t quite in it. Like I kept having to apologise to the deities I was invoking as I hadn’t thought to figure out how to pronounce their names before I was knuckle deep in dough. And speaking as one with a name nobody gets right first time (unless they’re a Cabaret fan), that pained me. It’s also the eldest daughter who should be making the struan, and I’m the youngest. So a fraud from the outset.
Not to mention, really not cooking the struan right. I took the non-yeasted way (for obvious reasons), but I buggered the bannock as I didn’t have the baking knowledge to back me up when I couldn’t make sense out of the perfectly sensible recipe. It should have turned out a bit like a battered flat rock cake. Instead it was just a very heavy frisbee of dough with a weird treacle crust.
But I didn’t break it (bad luck, shouldn’t be used). But I did taste it tonight. My recipe said best eaten straight from the oven, while another source said it’s eaten for breakfast on Michaelmas. So I want with inauthenticity and chewed my way through a perfectly pleasant slice that tasted of caraway and mixed fruit. I always forget how underused caraway is. Next cake, I might pop it in.
So there you have it. How to not quite celebrate Michaelmas Eve. Next year I want plan horse heists. That sounds a lot more fun.
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Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc