11 July 2011

11 July - Saint Benedict; Honey Cake

Weather: If it rains on Saint Benedict's Day, it will rain for forty days.

In the new calendar, this is the feast of Saint Benedict, the same whom I wrote about on the 21st of March.  In medieval calendars, this was a commemoration of the translation of his relics as found in OSB. Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict:

Translation of St. Benedict. Fleury (St. BenĂ´it sur Loire) and many other monasteries commemorate on 11 July the Translation of the relics of Saints Benedict and Scholastica about the year 652, in the reign of King Clovis II. During the Norman invasion the remains were hidden in different places and for a long time reposed in the church of St. Anian at Orleans, until they were finally carried back to Fleury. On 20 March 1107 they were placed in an eleborate shrine in the presence of King Louis VI and of bishops John II of Orleans and Humbald of Auxerre. When the commendatory abbot Aventin apostatized in 1561, he appropriated the costly reliquary but left the contents with Prior Foubert. The relics were placed in a silver shrine in 1653. Several other monasteries claim to possess relics of St. Benedict-- notably Monte Cassino and Metten. The relics of St. Scholastica were at one time preserved in Mans. 179.

Well, he's a great enough saint to be spread over a couple of days.

At this time of year, bees are working their hardest to turn nectar into honey.  Saint Benedict is said to be a patron of beekeepers (which I take leave to doubt) and today is a good reminder to ask a Blessing on the Bees.

Herein the Widow was going to rant about people who believe everything they find on the Internet and pass it along, but she has changed her mind.  There is nothing but one page (the above link) which claims that Benedict is the patron of apiarists, and a bunch of pages copying it, every one of them  accepting it without question (much like the oft-repeated "pineapple is a symbol of hospitality" myth.  Try tracing that one back to its source.  Let me know if you do.)

Well, today is too nice a day for a rant.  I will assuage my conscience by saying that the bees need all the help they can get, so today is as good a day as any, and probably better than most, to ask a blessing on the bees and the beekeepers.

Meanwhile, here is a recipe by Mrs. W. P. Trotter for HONEY CAKE which I found in Mountain Makin's in the Smokies, a cookbook which you can find here at the Great Smoky Mountains Association.  It uses sour milk, something that I am always surprised to find in my refrigerator.

"1/2 cup shortening
1 cup honey
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream shortening.  Add honey and egg.  Sift flour; measure and sift with baking powder, salt [note: the ingredients didn't list salt, and I've never used it with this recipe] and cinnamon.  Add milk with first mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Pour into shallow, well-oiled pan*.  Bake in moderate oven (375°) 50 minutes."

*I use an 8" x 8" x 2" square baking pan.