Well – it should be all about bunnies, tulips, simnel cake, spring lambs and all things green and new – but you just have to look out the window or at the news to see we still seem to be in the very depths of winter! So we thought we’d put aside the Easter things this week and bring out our winter woolly design biscuits again!
It’s really good fun to make home made cakes and biscuits – and it’s very “in” at the moment with every other programme on the TV seemingly to do with cooking, baking or bread making (we love it – especially that very gorgeous Paul Hollywood….. mmmm…………oops where were we?) – right yes - and icing them with fondant paste is a really easy and traditional pastime when it’s cold outside and the kids are running round looking for something to do (other than playing those high tech thingy whatsit blackberry/tablet/iphone/playstations) – get them out for a walk in the cold to wear them out then come in, make a big jug of hot chocolate and get baking!
The biscuits are really simple to make and the marshmallow icing is fabulous as you can make the fondant in small batches of lots of colours (or alternatively you can buy ready made fondant icing but it’s not as fun!)
To make and ice these biscuits…
Well it’s almost upon us – Mother’s Day! The time to let your Mum know just how much she means to you (well… we think you should do that more than once a year – but hey….once is better than none!) but what’s the history behind it all? Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?
Here’s a very brief potted history. To start with Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family.
Historically on most Sundays in the year churchgoers in England would worship at their nearest parish or ‘daughter church’. However, it was considered important for people living away from where they were born to return to their home or ‘mother’ church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their ‘Mother’ church – the main church or cathedral of the area.
Inevitably this became an occasion for family reunions and most historians think that it was the return to the ‘Mother’ church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.
As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift or take a cake (Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed that day). The cake especially associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel cake – fruit cake with two layers of almond paste – usually with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples of Jesus (excluding Judas). Click HERE for a link to a recipe and instructional video for making a Simnel cake from Fortnum & Mason (we only go for the very best!!)
The tradition of Mothering Sunday in this country had almost died out by the 1920’s/30’s – maybe due to a reduction of people in domestic service? But in America a lady called Anna Jarvis from Virginia had successfully campaigned for a day to celebrate the importance of motherhood and from around 1914 America had been holding their Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.
So when American forces arrived in the UK during 1941 and found that their Mother’s Day was not celebrated they decided to import the idea. It was then that we English piped up and insisted the traditional forth Sunday in Lent and not the newly established American date should be observed.
So having reignited Mothering Sunday, it was just a matter of time before the greeting card industry saw too good an opportunity to miss and they quickly seized the moment establishing one of the most popular and commercially successful occasions of the year.
But over the years, the greeting card industry has slowly converted the name and there are now very few cards that have the more traditional greeting of ‘Mothering Sunday’, you will find the vast majority have ‘Mother’s Day’ printed on them (we looked and it’s true!), even though the origins of the latter have no connection with our good old English celebration!