Saturday, February 14, 2009

Moravian Love Cakes.

Today in honour of Valentine’s Day, I give you an extra post for the week. Here is a recipe for ‘Moravian Love Cakes’, from With a Saucepan Over the Sea (1902), by Adelaide Keen.

Love Cakes.
(Germany. Eaten at Moravian love feasts.)
Boil 2 cupfuls of honey and 1 ounce of sugar. Add 4 ounces of chopped almonds and simmer 5 minutes longer, then add 8 ounces of chopped candied peel, ½ a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda, ½ a nutmeg, grated, a pinch of cloves, a teaspoonful of cinnamon, rind of a lemon, grated, and a tablespoonful of rum or sherry. Cut into pieces, 4x2 inches large, after adding enough flour to stiffen and rolling it very thin. Bake these in a slow oven, ice with sugar, and eat cold. In Germany they are served with wine to drink, and a bowl of stewed dried apples.


Ken Albala said...

Janet, these sounds just lovely. Not sure the Moravians would have had the same idea of Love Feast that I have, but I think I'm going to make this right now. Nice way to spend the afternoon. Thanks!


The Old Foodie said...

Hello Ken; I intended to make them too, but somehow ran out of hours in the day (made cakes for my daughter-in-laws birthday instead). I hope you blog about them!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

This sounds seductively delicious, but I must ask the question: what exactly occurred at a Moravian Love Feast?

The Old Foodie said...

T.W - I dont know, and am not sure I want to ask, in case I am disappointed ... If you attend, do let us all know, wont you?

Anonymous said...

Love feasts, also known as an Agape feast, were social, religious meals held by a congregation. The Moravian's of the Moravian Church inspired many churches to follow-suit, because they had just so much fun with their Moravian Love Feasts. Moravian's were a Protestant group from Bohema (modern day Czech Republic). The Moravian's focused on Christian unity, so did a lot of things to bring their church together.

The love feast was observed before major religious holidays - Easter, Christmas, etc. They would gather the congregation together and a big feast of food. Their were many types of Moravian Love [foods]. Common were Love Buns, but Love Cakes were also amongst them [although rarer]. You were intended to eat them, and feel the connection with your neighbors. A cool thing really.

Recipes for the Moravian Love Cakes tend to be identical to the one posted here .... I assume there is some type of trick to making them that is missed in the recipe. If anyone figures it out, please speak up. Some of the other recipes for Moravian Love foods call for yeast or other ingredients that are rising agents - and many call for a wide variety of spices.

Since modern day Valentine's Day is modeled upon Saint Valentine's Day, I suspect the Moravian's would be quite acceptable of their modern use. On the theory that keeping the family together is as important, if not more important, than keeping the congregation together.

This all leads up to - I tried the recipe last night. It is a delicious treat. I picked up a pleasant German Riesling to go with it and even made the dried apple stew! Only problem is that everything, after the preparations for dinner, was done at midnight. But the enjoyment was not overly soured.

I learned a few things from the recipe ... One, I think I put the baking soda in at the wrong time. I suspect it should be put in with the flour. Two, it took a lot of flour [I have no idea how much, I just kept adding until it was stiff]. Three, they rose - a tiny amount, which made them very dense [as I said, I think the baking soda needs to go in with the flour]. And Fourth, you can only roll them out as thin as you cut the ingredients up that you put in!

So, how are they? They are a sweet treat. If you make them like I did they are a very sweet treat indeed, but without enough air to make them softer. They are extremely chewy and dense. I think the baking soda is supposed to make them slightly airy, but that did not work out for me.

Good luck - if anyone figures out the trick, please speak up!

Thank you TOF for posting this recipe. :)

The Old Foodie said...

And thankyou, Jay, for giving us so much fascinating information about Moravian Love Feasts! It sounds like a tradition in need of broadening - anything that involves making nice stuff to share with the community is a good idea.
Ken - presumably this is NOT what you had in mind :)