4 December 2020 – Old St Clement’s Day

I’m pulling a crafty twofer this evening. It’s Old St Clement’s Day, plus it just so happens to be a certain someone’s birthday on Monday. So I made a birthday Clementy Cake. Except I went the oranges and lemons route, rather than probably turn out a slightly unpalatable hot cross bun-type cake as big as a plate. Which is what the good people of Lambourn, Berkshire served up as Clementy Cakes at their Sheep Fair today.  

Besides, I couldn’t find a spicy bun recipe called a Clementy Cake, I could only find St Clement’s Cakes which all seemed to be about citrus, eggs and almonds. So I hauled out my battered Claudia Roden*, and put the oranges and lemons on to boil. 

There is something rather unsettling about handling a post-boiled orange. They dent. The cake assemblage went much as you might expect. I managed to get lemon juice in my crappy cuticles, and fling globs of mixture everywhere. Well, it is Friday night. 

I mostly filled up my cake tin, after greasing and dusting it with more almonds. The rest I poured into a tiny tin so I could taste test it before Sunday. With my baking record, this was the only sensible course of action. 

And it tasted delicious, like marmalade on toast in brick form. Now if I can just figure out a way of levering it off the bottom of the cake tin, I’ll be sorted. 

*So you might be thinking I’ve been a bit cheeky using a Judeo-Spanish cake recipe to celebrate Old St Clement’s Day. Except, according to the historian Simon Sharma, the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons was all about the work day of the Jewish pedlars in the East End of London selling oranges and lemons. So I’m calling this folklore for the win. 


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Resources

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Roden, C. (1997) The Book of Jewish Food. An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day, London, Penguin

Sharma, S. (2017) Belonging. The Story of the Jews 1492-1900, London, Vintage

http://www.berkshirehistory.com/villages/lambourn.html

http://www.berkshirehistory.com/legends/oldcustoms.html

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/st-clements-cake

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-belonging-the-story-of-thejews-1492-1900-by-simonschama-gmhgs88h9

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