Twelfth Night, Apples and Wassailing: A Traditional English Wassail Recipe

Twelfth Night, Mulling and Wassail: A Traditional English Wassail Recipe

Twelfth Night, Mulling and Wassail: A Traditional English Wassail Recipe

Twelfth Night is just a day away as I write, and I am minded to share an old English recipe with you today, a recipe that will be just the ticket for a night of feasting and revelry, as well as being perfect to serenade any apple trees you may have in your garden on the 6th January, which is Twelfth Day or Epiphany. A traditional hot, mulled drink, Wassail is making a comeback after being in a culinary wilderness since the beginning of the 20th century; today’s recipe is based on a very old recipe from Suffolk in the East of England, and is basically a spiced hot cider that is fortified with port and sherry and is served with hot, baked apples.

http://www.history.uk.com/christmas/wassailing/

Wassail was a traditional Christmas and New Year toast, derived from the Anglo-Saxon words for “to your health” – “waes hael”, the recipe of the same name is a spiced and very alcoholic hot beverage that was offered to visitors throughout the festive period, or in some cases taken around the community in a large wooden bowl decorated with evergreen leaves (usually holly and ivy) and festoons of bright red ribbons.  There is no definitive recipe for “wassail” the drink, as it varies from county to county, and was often dependant on local ingredients and libations such as ale, cider, apple juice and fruit, OR whatever was used to “top” the wassail bowl up as it was taken around to individual houses in the local community.

Wassail

However, it is generally agreed that the main components are the spices and alcohol, as it is a drink to wish all who partake of it, good health. Although wassail is usually associated with Christmas and the New Year, it was very often offered as a toast at weddings and christenings, as well as at harvest suppers……..it’s basically a boozy beverage to be enjoyed when making merry! My recipe today serves 6 to 8 people and is fragrant with aromatic spices, roast apples, oranges and lemons, as well as Suffolk cider, or should I say “Cyder” to use the old English spelling.

Cyder

As well as imbibing in a mug or two of hot booze, wassail is also accompanied by singing…….and it is popular as a beverage to enjoy whilst “wassailing” apple orchards. Although the practice of wassailing apple orchards has all but died out now, there is a village in Cornwall, Grampound, where wassailing still takes place every New Year, and the Wildlife Trust in Staffordshire are hosting a big Wassail this year too, with Morris Dancers, Mulled Apple Juice sampling, a procession and offerings to the local apple trees. More local London events for Twelfth Night celebrations and wassail can be found here: Twelfth Night celebrations 

The 2015 TWELFTH NIGHT Celebrations will be held on Sunday 4th January 2015 starting at 2:15pm.

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t end today’s post with a wassail song, and one of my favourites is a traditional apple wassailing song from Somerset, where they also still celebrate wassailing on Old Twelfth Night which is the 17th January; bread that is soaked in cider is placed on the branches of an apple tree whilst onlookers sing wassail songs…..

Old apple tree we wassail thee
And hoping thou will bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
‘Til apples come another year

For to bear well and to bloom well
So merry let us be
Let every man take off his hat
And shout to the old apple tree

Old apple tree we wassail thee
And hoping thou will bear
Hat fulls, cap fulls, three bushel bag fulls
And a little heap under the stair

Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Wassailing Apple Trees

…….before I sign off, I must mention my local version of wassail – “Lamb’s Wool” – Lamb’s Wool is made with ale instead of cider and is a wassail toast from Yorkshire to “mutton and wool” the staples of local trade and agriculture in the Yorkshire Dales. The apples are roasted as in my Suffolk recipe for wassail, and spices, sweet wine and sugar are also added, but, the apples are then skinned and mashed with the pulp being added which is supposed to represent and resemble lamb’s wool.

Blue and White

Whatever your last tipple before “Dry January”, I hope you enjoy Twelfth Night and Epiphany and I will be back next week with some new 5:2 diet recipes, as well as some thrifty “penny saving” ideas for the New Year. Waes Hael! Karen

Wassail

Traditional English Wassail – Mulled Cider

A traditional English Wassail recipe that originates from Suffolk which is a delectable hot, spiced mulled cider with sherry and port and is served with the all important baked apples. A Yorkshire version called “Lamb’s Wool” is made with ale instead of cider and is served when the apples have burst, so the pulp looks like lamb’s wool in the mulled ale.

Ingredients

  • 6 small apples, cored
  • 6 teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 6 cloves
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 litres cider
  • 300mls port
  • 300mls sherry or Madeira
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, halved

Note

A traditional English Wassail recipe that originates from Suffolk which is a delectable hot, spiced mulled cider with sherry and port and is served with the all important baked apples. A Yorkshire version called “Lamb’s Wool” is made with ale instead of cider and is served when the apples have burst, so the pulp looks like lamb’s wool in the mulled ale.

Directions

Step 1 Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
Step 2 Cut around the middle of each apple with a sharp knife and place them in an oven proof dish. Fill each apple core cavity with a teaspoon of sift brown sugar. Stick the cloves in the orang and place it with the apples in the dish. Add a little water, about 6 tablespoons and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft but still retain their shape.
Step 3 Leave the apples in the dish to keep warm and take the orange out – cut it in half and place it on a large sauce pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and the juices from the apple roasting dish to the sauce pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Step 4 Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn it down immediately and keep it warm until you need to serve it.
Step 5 When you are ready to serve the wassail, ladle the fruit and spiced into a large punch bowl and then pour the wassail into the bowl. Add the apples by floating them on top and serve straight away in warmed mugs or cups.
Step 6 The apples can be eaten afterwards as a delectable dessert with cream or custard.

Wassail

Suffolk Cyder Wassail

Old English Cyder Wassail

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