The two great holidays of the Lace Makers – for which Nottingham is known the world over (and which, according to modern folklore accounts for number of beautiful and feisty women in the City) are Cattern’s (St Catherine’s Day, November 25th) and Tander’s (St Andrew’s Day, November 30th).
St Catherine is the patron Saint of Spinners, lace-makers, rope-makers and “spinsters” and Lace-makers traditionally made these cakes to celebrate her feast day (also the name, coincidentally, of the Duchess of Cambridge who chose Nottingham Lace for her wedding gown).
The story is also told that when Katherine of Aragon was imprisoned at Ampthill she heard of the plight of local lace-makers and ordered all her lace to be burned so she could commission new in order to give work to the industry. Sometimes the cakes are made as rounds or “wheels” (Catherine Wheels, associated with St Catherine of Alexandria) but I remember them more like scones. Either way, they are delicious – something between a cake and a cookie bar flavoured with Caraway.
This recipe is adapted from one by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, I found this a little dry and so added some water, (you could add milk) but go carefully as it will become sticky and unworkable very quickly)
275g self raising flour, Quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon, 25g currants, 50g ground almonds, 2 teaspoons carraway seeds, 200g Caster sugar, 100g melted butter, 1 large egg, beaten, (a little cold water to add to dough if too dry).
Method – Oven 200C
Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and add almonds, currants, caraway seeds and sugar. Add the beaten egg and melted butter and mix into a smooth dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a square.
Brush the dough with a little water and then sprinkle with extra sugar and cinnamon, roll this up like a swiss roll and then cut into 2cm wide slices. Place on non-stick or greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.