Meara Platt

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Regency Halloween?

The modern Church of England might frown upon the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve (or Hallowe’en), but commemorations for the dead have been popular throughout the British Isles for centuries.  In the 1600's, children would go from door to door asking for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the dead. What treats might children be given in 1800s Regency England as they dressed up in masks and costumes (to disguise themselves from the dead souls roaming in the Hallowe'en air) and went door to door?  Of course, I’d choose to knock on doors in the finer neighborhoods of London such as Mayfair or Belgravia where I might find freshly baked crumpets, biscuits, cakes and tarts.

Crumpets are similar to what we call English muffins.  Scones are best described as heavy muffins.  Popular cakes and tarts of the day were Singing Hinny’s (flat cakes that sizzled as they baked), Bath Buns (sugar coated buns), Maids of Honor (little tarts made popular by Henry VIII, often flavored with jams or almonds), Teabread (made with a mix of flour and hot tea, dried fruit, brown sugar, orange or lemon rind, and a touch of nutmeg) and gingerbread, to name a few.  A favorite at Scottish teas was the Dundee cake (a cake made of almonds, raisins, and currants) and the heartier Clootie Dumpling (a haggis-like pudding stuffed with cinnamon, ginger, treacle and syrup instead of meat).

So what’s your choice?  Kit-Kats, Reese’s Cups, or Lakeland tatie scones?



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