by Hanky Panky
Hopefully in the midst of the holiday hustle you were able to snag a copy of this week’s Dig in which the LUPEC ladies unraveled the mystery of wassailing. Who knew that the phrase that has been confusing us for years could actually be pointing to a delicious libation that can warm us throughout this festive and hectic season.
Thankfully making Wassail is not complicated. It can, however, be a bit time consuming. For this reason we decided to feature a recipe for Wassail from one of our favorite books, Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: Drinking Around the World by Charles H. Baker Jr. Mr. Baker is best known for traveling the world over to write about all things related to food and drink. Those who are fortunate to own this tome know that his prose is as remarkably delicious as the recipes featured therein. So who better to walk us through the ancient ritual than Mr. Charles H. Baker Jr. Enjoy!
THE ANCIENT WASSAIL BOWL FROM AN ANCIENT ELIZABETHAN FORMULA, CIRCA 1602, & TRULY NOTABLE FOR ITS EXCEEDING MILDNESS
In Saxon times this custom of the Wassail Bowl at feast days was an important ceremony, and later it became an accepted custom at Christmas Eve, when minstrels or choirs, or village singers went about singing carols where there was a candle lit in the window.
In the Feudal castles, and manor houses, the Wassail Bowl was borne into the banqueting Hall with songs and carols, and crowned with garlands.
Nutmeg, 1/2 grated; or 2 tsp powdered
Powdered or grated ginger, 1 tsp
Cloves, 6 whole
Cinnamon, 1 inch of stick
Sugar, 1 cup
Eggs, yolks 6; whites 3
Apples, 6 cored, but not pared
Mace, 1/4 tsp
Sherry or Madeira, 2 qts
Take spices and cover with a cup of cold water. Fetch to a boil; adding wine and sugar. Let heat up…Meanwhile in the Wassail Bowl (Punchbowl) previously warmed:
Break in six yolks and three whites. Beat up. When wine is warm – not boiling – mix a teacupful with the egg. When a little warmer, add another cupful, and repeat until five cups have been used…Now let the rest of the wine boil up well, and pour it into the bowl also, stirring well all the time, until it froths in attractive fashion…Fill cored apples with sugar, sprinkle on a little of the spice and roast until nearly done. Time these to suit the end of the wine-pouring process. Throw them into the bowl, and serve the whole thing very hot…Some stout hearts add a tumbler full of good cognac brandy to the whole – and we, after testing the business, heartily agree with them; since sherry of itself isn’t potent enough to make any Saxon defend his native land, much less a 20th Century wassailer, with all we have been through during one and a half decades that Saxons never even considered as drinkable fluid!