23 November 2010

23 November - Saint Clement; Saint Troll

Bernardino Fungai, The Martyrdom of Saint Clement

Today is the feast day of Saint Clement I (died c. 101), Pope and martyr, disciple and friend of Saints Peter and Paul.

He is said to have been martyred by being tossed into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck (see the above image).  By this, he became the patron of sailors, mariners, watermen, and boatmen.  Prior to this, he had been sent to labor in a stone quarry, so marble workers and stonecutters also claim him as their patron.  And for some reason, blacksmiths claim him as well, although there doesn't seem to be anything in his story about blacksmiths.  Various theories are advanced: they felt guilty that it was their occupation which forged the anchor; that a pagan deity in charge of smiths was honored on this day, and the two celebrations just naturally melded together; or that originally it was the anchor-smiths (a different mystery from that of blacksmiths) who claimed him has their patron, and the blacksmiths joined in.

Be that as it may, the traditions for this day much resemble those of a few weeks before.

In some parts of England, children would again go singing and begging door to door, as they did previously on All Hallow's Eve and All Soul's Eve, for money and cakes or fruit:
"Clemancing, clemancing, year by year
Apples and pears are very good cheer;
One for Peter and two for Paul,
And three for the Man that made us all.
Up with your stocking and down with your shoe,
If you've got no apples, money will do..."

Blacksmiths also would go around the neighborhood and beg for alms in the name of good Saint Clement, thence repairing to the chosen tavern and there enjoying as good a carouse as the day's haul would allow.

The traditional little cakes given out to the children were spice cakes, and you can do the same by making cupcakes out of your favorite spice cake recipe.  If you want to go fancy, try St. Clement's Tartlets, a custard tart flavored with orange and lemon; or even fancier, St. Clement's Trifle (which soaks the sponge cakes in Cointreau, suitable for anyone's carouse).

The use of citrus in Saint Clement recipes harks back to the old rhyme(s) (there were several variations) about the Bells of London:

Oranges and Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement's
Bullseyes and targets say the Bells of St. Marg'ret's... etc.

So nearly every recipe you find for a Saint Clement's Day dessert will have orange and lemon flavorings.  This SAINT CLEMENT'S CAKE is no different.

First make your LEMON CURD.  You will need a double boiler for this.  Into top part of double boiler put 1/2 cup of butter, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, the grated rind of 2 lemons, 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, and 6 lightly beaten eggs. Place this over simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until fairly thick.  Cool, then store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  This will make about 3 cups of lemon curd, of which you will only need a couple of tablespoons for this recipe; use the rest as filling for tartlets or to spread between layers of spongecake.

Now for the CAKE.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch cake pan, line with wax paper, and lightly grease again.

Separate 1 egg.  Sift 6 tablespoons of sugar and set aside.  Sift 1/2 cup of flour; then sift together flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and a dash of salt.  Sift again and set aside.  Beat the egg white until stiff and set aside.

In your mixing bowl, beat the egg yolk slightly.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and beat until thick and light yellow.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon rind. Beat in the sifted sugar, one spoonful at a time.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of hot water and the sifted flour mixture.  Fold in the beaten egg white.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on a cake rack (let it cool thoroughly).  Slice the cake horizontally into two layers (this is easiest done by placing toothpicks at the desired height all around the cake and using them to guide your knife).

Spread lemon curd on bottom layer; 2 - 3 tablespoons should do, more if you like.  Replace top layer on cake.  Drizzle with ORANGE GLAZE, which you make by mixing together thoroughly 1 cup of confectioner's (powdered) sugar, 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind, and 2 tablespoons of orange juice.
This is also the feast of a 7th century saint called "Trudo",  a Benedictine preacher who evangelized in the area of modern Belgium.  In the Chamber's Book of Days, he is called "Saint Troll", and since he doesn't seem to be the patron of anything, perhaps he could be the patron saint of trolls, those mighty sinners online who set out to cause mayhem, hatred, and flame wars.  Even they need an advocate in heaven - nobody here is likely to ask a blessing on them.