Today is the third birthday of The Old Foodie. How Amazing. It started off as a little experiment for fun, and here we all are, 863 posts later. Who’da Thought It?
A few people around the world will chose to celebrate Halloween instead of the TOF’s birthday of course, for tonight is also the e’en (evening) of All Hallows (All Saints) Day.
The modern customs of Hallowe’en are the result of clever commercial manipulation of traditions that have their roots in the the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain which marked the end of the harvest season. It was believed that on this night the passages between the worlds of the living and the dead were open, and the souls of the dead could walk the land, wreaking havoc if they were not properly appeased (or confused by scary costumes and noise.)
The spirits could also be invoked to foretell the future, and many Halloween games and customs are based on old divination methods. For example, in a variation of the bean in the Twelfth Night Cake, or the charms in a Christmas Pudding, one custom in
Barm Brack comes from the words barm (yeast) and breac (speckled) and refers to the fruit scattered through the sweet dough. In that other stronghold of the Celts –
The earliest recipe I have found so far (after a far from an exhaustive search) is from a Scottish cookery book of 1802 – the recipe donated by a lady in
To Make Barren Brack.
Take three quarts of flour, rub into it three ounces of butter, seven ounces of sugar, some carraway seeds, make a hole in this; put into it two eggs beat up to a froth, a gill of barm in as much new milk as will wet it; work it up and let it rise, and bake it upon a girdle.
The New Practice of Cookery, Pastry, Baking, and Preserving: being The Country Housewife’s Best Friend, by Mrs Hudson, Mrs Donat, Edinburgh, 1804.
Quotation for the Day …
On the plain household bread his eye did not dwell; but he surveyed with favor some currant tea-cakes, and condescended to make a choice of one. Charlotte Bronte.