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Mother’s Day Our Way

MOTHER’S DAY FROM STUDIO WILLIAM

We can’t imagine anything more delightful than drawing on our oldest home-grown traditions and combining them with the best of modern design, to honour those dearest to us. In fact, nothing comes closer to the ethos and vision of Studio William than drawing from the best of the past in order to improve your experiences of the present.

Flowers and chocolates may be the go-to gifts for some on Mother’s Day, but we still associate this special time with proper drinking and dining, and particularly with ‘high tea’. As you read this, people up and down the country will be booking a table in mum’s favourite restaurant or planning their own home-cooked meal. Because for mum, there’s nothing more memorable than having the family together around the table to celebrate her special day.

If you plan to cook for the family, or help organise a Mother’s Day teatime at home, remember the old saying; ‘God is in the details’. The pleasure of this magical day can be greatly enhanced, not only by a special setting and good company but by the cutlery that delivers the food from plate to palette. Why not try our beautiful leaf teaspoons, award-winning sensory taster spoons, or elegant pastry forks for a guaranteed taste sensation?

UNIQUE MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS BY STUDIO WILLIAM

‘Mothering Sunday’ fell out of fashion in the late 19th century and it might have disappeared altogether but for the efforts, in the early 20th century, of a certain Constance Adelaide Smith, a vicar’s daughter. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis to rekindle the separate and distinct British tradition but with a greater emphasis on motherhood itself. She collected, recorded and published the traditions surrounding Mothering Sunday, from the practice of daughters visiting their mothers to the gifts of Simnel cakes or wafer cakes. In this way, she hoped to persuade both the public and the politicians that there was already an ancient tradition of honouring mothers of all kinds on the 4th Sunday in Lent and it would only need a little official recognition to revive and flourish.

And, of course, she succeeded.

While we no longer observe, (how many even remember?), the religious aspect of the holiday, Mother’s Day has become a permanent fixture. And there remain some distinctly British aspects of the festival, rooted in its origins, which have somehow kept their hold on the ways we choose to celebrate it.

However you decide to honour this occasion, we hope you have enjoyed this look behind the scenes at our particularly British version of Mother’s Day and we wish you and yours a very happy Mother’s Day!

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THE HISTORY OF MOTHER’S DAY

Traditionally, Mother’s Day was a family gathering with cakes, particularly Simnel* cake. Baked on the morning of the holiday, these sweet treats formed a central feature of the holiday - and they still do today.

Mother’s Day, the day when we celebrate the mother figures in our lives, is celebrated in springtime in many countries around the world. In some, it is even a public holiday.

This day of appreciation can trace its roots to two American women, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis who each established a mother’s day tradition – one in Boston and the other in Albion, Michigan. It was Jarvis, however, who persuaded President Woodrow Wilson to sign Mother's Day into existence in 1914. And this is where the modern, yearly celebration of motherhood began.

In the United Kingdom, the tradition is much older and more nuanced. The British origins of the holiday are perceptible in the uniquely British designation, ‘Mothering Sunday’ as well as in the date on which it always falls.

Mothering Sunday began in the 1500’s as a purely religious observance. People would return to the church in which they had been baptised or which they attended as children, (their ‘mother church’, hence the name). It fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter – and still does. On this day, families came together or were reunited, as people returned to the towns and villages of their birth for a special religious service. The strict fast of Lent was relaxed and more substantial fare was enjoyed for this day alone. For this reason, Mothering Sunday was also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’.

For many, the journey back was a kind of pilgrimage and ‘going-mothering’ became quite a holiday event. Over time, it became customary for domestic servants to be given the day off to visit their families as well as attend the traditional service. As they would usually bring gifts of food for their mothers and perhaps hand me downs for younger siblings, the giving of Mother’s Day gifts became part of the tradition.

‘Mothering Sunday’ fell out of fashion in the late 19th century and it might have disappeared altogether but for the efforts, in the early 20th century, of a certain Constance Adelaide Smith, a vicar’s daughter. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis to rekindle the separate and distinct British tradition but with a greater emphasis on motherhood itself. She collected, recorded and published the traditions surrounding Mothering Sunday, from the practice of daughters visiting their mothers to the gifts of Simnel cakes or wafer cakes. In this way, she hoped to persuade both the public and the politicians that there was already an ancient tradition of honouring mothers of all kinds on the 4th Sunday in Lent and it would only need a little official recognition to revive and flourish.

And, of course, she succeeded.

While we no longer observe, (how many even remember?), the religious aspect of the holiday, Mother’s Day has become a permanent fixture. And there remain some distinctly British aspects of the festival, rooted in its origins, which have somehow kept their hold on the ways we choose to celebrate it.

However you decide to honour this occasion, we hope you have enjoyed this look behind the scenes at our particularly British version of Mother’s Day and we wish you and yours a very happy Mother’s Day!

* DELICIOUS & MOIST SIMNEL CAKE RECIPE

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with a layer of marzipan and with a second layer baked through the middle. Traditionally, Simnel cakes are decorated with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples and, sometimes, Jesus Christ. One legend says that the cake was named after Lambert Simnel who worked in the kitchens of Henry VII of England sometime around the year 1500. Find out more here.

INGREDIENTS

Makes: at least 10 slices

Metric Cups
• 100 grams glace cherries
• 500 grams of mixed dried fruit
• 175 grams soft unsalted butter
• 175 grams caster sugar
• zest of 1 lemon
• 225 grams plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
• 25 grams ground almonds
• 3 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 kilogram yellow marzipan to decorate
• icing sugar for rolling
• 1 tablespoon apricot jam (melted)
• 1 egg white (optional)

METHOD

1.

      1.  Take everything you need out of the fridge so it can get to room temperature. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C/150°C Fan/325°F. Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm /8-inch springform cake tin with a double layer of brown baking paper. Chop the cherries very finely and add them to the rest of the fruit.

2.

      1.  Cream the butter and sugar until very soft and light, and add the lemon zest. You could do this by hand, just with a bowl and wooden spoon, but I own up to using my freestanding mixer here. But it’s not crucial, not least because the intention with fruit cakes is not to whip air into them. Measure the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and ground almonds into a bowl and stir to combine.

3.

      1.  Add 1 of the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar with 2 tablespoons of the dry flour-and-spice ingredients, then beat in the remaining eggs in the same way. Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients, and then the milk. Finally, fold in the fruit.

4.

      1.  Dust a surface with a little icing sugar and then roll out about 400g / 14oz of the marzipan. Cut it into a 20cm /8-inch circle which will fit in the middle of the cake later. Spoon half of the fruit cake mixture into the cake tin, smoothing it down with a rubber spatula, and then lay the marzipan circle on top of it. Spoon the rest of the mixture into the tin on top of the marzipan circle and smooth the top again. Bake for half an hour and then turn the oven down to gas mark 2/150°C/130°C Fan/300°F for another 1½ hours or until the cake has risen and is firm on top. Let it cool completely on a rack before you spring it open.

5.

      1.  Unspring the cooled fruit cake, and unwrap the lining from the cake. Roll out another 400g / 14oz circle of marzipan, paint the top of the cake with the melted apricot jam, and then stick it on.

6.

      1.  Make 11 apostle balls out of the remaining marzipan, roughly 2.5cm / 1 inch in size. Beat the egg white – just till it’s a bit frothy and loosened up a little, no more – and use that as glue to stick the apostles around the edge of the cake.

7.

    1.  Now for the bit, I love, but you can ignore altogether. Paint the whole of the cake with egg white, and then blow-torch the marzipan so that it scorches slightly, giving a beauteously burnished look.

 


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