Sunday 6 January 2019

Twelfth Night

Jan Steen, 'The King Drinks' A Twelfth Night Feast, circa 1661
Not the Yum Cha Crowd today - It is 2019 after all, not 1661!
We are not slaves to tradition in the Pipistrello household but we did manage to observe Twelfth Night this Christmas when the Yum Cha Crowd met up for a bit of Chinese today. Technically it is now Epiphany, but (unless, Dear Reader, you also live in Australia) these pages come to you from the Future, so it is still Twelfth Night elsewhere in the World. And as this is no longer the Olden Days and you may be unsure how this feast should pan out, here are a couple of pointers for the day:

Key is that the world is turned on its head while feasting and merriment are the order of the day. (See above). For our little party of revellers this was simply met by changing up our stalwart venue Sky Phoenix for a bit of Chinese Posh at Billy Kwong - a feast and shaking it up? Check.

There should also be a cake. Tradition dictates that a proper Twelfth Cake contains a bean and a pea and the finder is Bean King and Queen for the duration of the topsy turvy night. A good look at a recipe and with its yeast and spices, sultanas and candied peel, it looks suspiciously like a variation of Stollen. Lo! Here's one (actually eight) I prepared earlier:

Mini Stollen freshly baked for Twelfth Night
Pipistrello's Stollen
Standing in for Twelfth Cake

As you may notice, they are neither adorned with icing or pastry, nor a crown or somesuch, to make them germane to today's topic, but they are all part and parcel of our Christmas catch up. Neither will any of the Yum Cha devotees later find a bean or pea, or a little figurine, within but the mini Stollen are chock-full of home made candied fruit peel and marzipan. And anyway, these are more egalitarian days and none of us may feel comfortable about Lording it over each other as the Bean King or Queen.

The Lovely L recently chastised me over a distinct lack of photographs to illustrate my culinary point about these pages, so I am furnishing below a couple of pics to help fill the gaps (and perhaps to prove I'm not just all puff and no pants when it comes to my kitchen adventures):

Photo of cachaça soaked fruit peel and nuts
Remember the Cachaça Kumquats? The flavourful spirit is so handy!
Photo of Mini Stollen ready for their second rise before baking
Luckily the 38 degree day had cooled considerably when the oven went on

While there were no Twelfth Night japes and hijinks at Billy Kwong's establishment (although I do believe L&B went home to battle it out over Scrabble, so the requisite game-playing was fulfilled), there was a lot of happy chatter and conviviality as our party saw out the Christmas in a fine style.

postscript: Although the Christmas tree is still standing, Mr P did take down the door wreath today. It may be unlucky in some circles to have left the tree up but I am not superstitious so it will come down well before Candlemas, maybe even tomorrow. But I shall miss its kitschy contribution to our decor.


  1. NO HURRY!
    I thought the CHRISTMAS Tree was for getting one through the WINTER DOLDRUMS.........I was not ready to take OURS DOWN but we did!HO HUM!NOw I must get out in that GARDEN and start pruning away!SPRING IS COMING TO THE CASA OF THE CONTESSA!!!!!!HIP HIP HOORAY!

    1. Haha! Yes, the tree is a pretty solid decorative element in our place, too. It did come down this week after all and the living room takes a bit of getting used to when all the sparkle goes.

      You have made a bold declaration there that spring is on its way in your neck of the woods. Don't forget that February can often bring a bit of snow in the Northern Hemisphere! xx

  2. Sorry, I'm a bit late for this post !!!
    Your food looks AMAZING ... we always have to get our decorations down by Twelth Night ..... most British people do .... superstition .... probably a load of rubbish !!! Mind you, as much as I love Christmas and all of the decorations, I'm usually ready for them to be put away !!! XXXX

    1. Never too late, Jackie, this blog moves at a glacial speed! Thank you for the Stollen compliment, I have to say it was rather tasty and the recipe is a keeper, although not dissimilar to the Hot Cross Buns which will be winging their way onto our plates before too long.

      As for the decorations, the Xmas banners are still hanging in the streets and I'm curious to see if the Council is superstitiously waiting for Candlemas to bring them down! xx


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