January 2, 2017

Recipe for Twelfth Night Cake

Twelfth Night - January 5th

By In Recipes
Twelfth Night, January 5th, the end of the Christmas festivities. Its origins lie in pre-Christian times, one of those festivals appropriated by the Christian Church and swallowed into the Epiphany.

Twelfth Night was an occasion for games and feasting. A Lord of Misrule, appointed at the beginning of the Christmas season, would hold his last court. In Tudor times a play would be held (Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for example) and a Twelfth Night cake baked with a bean inside. Who finds the bean is crowned the King of the Bean or the Queen of the Marrowfat.

“During the twelve days of Christmas, traditional roles were often relaxed, masters waited on their servants, men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels. Some of these traditions were adapted from older, pagan customs, including the Roman Saturnalia. Some also have an echo in modern day pantomime where traditionally authority is mocked and the principal male lead is played by a woman, while the leading older female character, or ‘Dame’ is played by a man.” Wikipedia

Recipe for Twelfth Night Cake

Twelfth Night Cake

Twelfth Night Cake

Twelfth Night Cake

Twelfth Night Cake

Course cake, Dessert
Cuisine English
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes


For the Cake

  • 225 g butter softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225 g golden caster sugar
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 225 g currants
  • 225 g sultanas
  • 225 g raisins
  • 50 g chopped mixed nuts
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp Brandy or Spiced Rum
  • pea or bean optional


  • glace cherries
  • melted honey


  1. Oven to 150C/300F

  2. Grease and line an 9 inch tin

  3. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and brandy.

  4. Sift in the flour and cinnamon, fold into the butter mixture a little at a time and alternate with adding in the fruits too. Add in the pea or bean if using.

  5. Pour into the tin and bake for 3-31/2 hours. Once cooked and cooled decorate with melted honey and the cherries.

Recipe Notes

Who fins the pea or bean in their slice is crowned the King of the Bean or Queen of the Marrowfat (pea). Recipe from A Calendar of Feasts by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer.

“Christmas goes out in fine style, with Twelfth Night. It is a finish worthy of the time. Christmas Day was the morning of the season; New Year’s Day the middle of it, or noon; Twelfth Night is the night, brilliant with innumerable planets of Twelfth-cakes. The whole island keeps court; nay, all Christendom. All the world are kings and queens. Everybody is somebody else, and learns at once to laugh at, and to tolerate, characters different from his own, by enacting them. Cakes, characters, forfeits, lights, theatres, merry rooms, little holiday-faces, and, last not least, the painted sugar on the cakes, so bad to eat but so fine to look at, useful because it is perfectly useless except for a sight and a moral?—all conspire to throw a giddy splendour over the last night of the season, and to send it to bed in pomp and colours, like a Prince.” Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, by Clement A. Miles, [1912], at sacred-texts

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