The Celtic Diet – Part 7 – Beltane

Continuing with our series on Celtic Diet, here’s a couple of recipes for Beltane.

Beltane Bannock

Beltane Bannock is an oatcake, made and eaten on Beltane morning to ensure the health of crops and your herds. An old folk magic ritual was performed where the bannock is separated into nine ‘knobs’, each one dedicated to something they felt preserved their livestock or a plea to local predators before being shared and eaten. A rhyme like this was recited: – “Here
to thee, wolf, spare my sheep; there to thee, fox, spare my lambs; here to thee, eagle, spare my goats; there to thee raven, spare my kids; here to thee, martin, spare my fowls, there to thee, harrier, spare my chickens.”

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbs. lard or butter
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Preparation

  1. Combine oatmeal, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter, and drizzle it over the oats.
  3. Add the water, and stir the mix until it forms a stiff dough.
  4. Turn the dough out on a sheet of wax paper and knead thoroughly.
  5. Separate the dough into two equal portions, and roll each one into a ball.
  6. Use a rolling pin to make a flat pancake that is about ¼” thick.
  7. Cook your oatcakes on a griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown.
  8. Cut each round into quarters to serve.

Beltane Caudle

Caudle is a warm, thick and sweet drink that was often prescribed to those who were sick, pregnant or to new mothers. This can be served with the bannock, which can be dipped into mix. The oldest surviving recipe is just a list of ingredients; wine, wheat starch, raisins, and sugar. Later recipes state ale or
wine is heated and thickened with egg yolks and/or ground almonds, then optionally spiced with sugar, honey, saffron, and/or ginger.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pt (1 cup) milk
  • 1 tbsp oatmeal
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • pinch of salt
  • nutmeg or mixed spice
  • whisky, ale or white wine

Preparation

  1. Heat the milk in a pan with the oatmeal and a pinch of salt.
  2. Stir well and bring to the boil, then simmer until it starts to thicken.
  3. Stir in the eggs, sugar and spices (added according to taste), and keep simmering for at least five minutes – stir well to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.
  4. Remove from the pan and add in as much whisky, ale or white wine as you prefer.
  5. Serve immediately, either on its own or poured over bannocks or a dessert.

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