6 January: The Baddeley Twelfth Day Cake

This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obey'd
The Drama's homage by her herald paid,
Receive our welcome too, whose every tone
Springs from our hearts, and fair would win your own.
The curtain rises--may our stage unfold
Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old!
Britons our judges, Nature for our guide,
Still may we please--long, long may you preside. 

From: 'Address, Spoken At The Opening Of Drury-Lane Theatre. Saturday, October 10, 1812' by George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)

It's Epiphany - 'Feasts and Festivals' fourth birthday! Golly. I've written about Epiphnay before of course and it's a lovely reason for one last blow out - before the austerity of January and the return to work on Plough Monday. Here's the link to the previous Epiphany posts.

Twelfth Night

Women's Little Christmas

and Plough Monday, which this year is the same day - or should it be next week?

Plough Monday

It’s fascinating how many customs still exist even though the original cause is lost or long forgotten. Almost above all, the theatre world has hung onto many of its traditions into the 21st century. So tonight at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, the cast of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ will cut the ‘Baddeley Cake’ as previous theatrical companies have done since 1795. I do hope it’s a chocolate cake!

Drury Lane Theatre is the fourth theatre on the same site - one of the earlier ones was designed by Sir Christopher Wren for David Garrick – I would love to have seen that, but it was demolished in 1791. I’ve known the story of Sheridan watching his theatre burn for years but I didn’t know until writing this that it was the rebuilt Drury Lane Theatre. The story goes that in 1809 an acquaintance of Sheridan sees the great man calmly sitting in a coffee house drinking his latte (or some such) whilst across the road his theatre is in flames. ‘Good God man!’ says the friend ‘How can you sit there when your livelihood is being ruined?’ Sheridan takes a sip of coffee and says ‘The world has come to a pretty pass my good friend when a man can’t sit down by his own fireside…’

(Wikipedia says Sheridan was drinking wine…I must have been told the teetotal version).

The quote above is Byron at the opening of the replacement of Sheridan's theatre. I have to say it feels as though Byron was being paid by the couplet. Definitely not one of his best!

The Baddeley Cake ceremony comes about through the generosity of an actor called Richard Baddeley. In his Will of 23rd April 1792 he stated:

"I HEREBY DIRECT that the sum of One hundred pounds Stock in three per cent Consolidated Bank Annuities may be purchased immediately after my decease... to produce as nearly as possible the Annual Sum of Three Pounds which... I DIRECT shall be applied and expended in the purchase of a Twelfth Cake or Cakes and Wine and Punch or both of them which... it is my request the Ladies and Gentlemen performers of Drury lane Theatre... will do me the favour to accept on Twelfth Night in every year in the Green Room..."

Baddeley was a jobbing actor in Garrick’s and Sheridan’s company and he is much more remembered dead than alive. Here he is playing the character of Moses in Sheridan’s ‘School for Scandal’. He was playing Moses the night he died – virtually on the stage of the theatre. He looks very jolly - as if he would like a good cake.

Incidentally Drury Lane is the most haunted of theatres. The most famous ghost is the 'Man in Grey', who appears dressed as a nobleman of the late 18th century. He is apparently the ghost of a man whose remains were found walled up in the theatre in 1848. He had been stabbed. I"m surprised Baddeley isn't one of the Drury Lane ghosts. Anyway tonight he will be there in spirit  to see the cast eat his cake and toast his generosity. For the last forty years or so the Baddeleley cake has been designed to tie in with the production. Here is the one that was made when 'Oliver' was showing.

(Photos from the Drury Lane theatre website) 

I don’t think my decorating skills are up to that, but I have made a chocolate cake, which was really a pudding rather than a delicate afternoon tea confection.

This looked so impressive but was actually really easy! I made it at my Mum's with my niece Millie doing the decorations.

Make a chocolate cake in an 8" cake tin. I used 6 eggs, 12 ounces of everything else - soft butter,  sugar and SR flour. I took out 2 oz of the flour and replaced it with cocoa powder and added ½tsp baking powder and  tsp instant coffee which I dissolved in the eggs before adding them. Do not over mix.  Bake for an hour at 170c.

Cool and cover with ganache - 200ml of double cream and 200g dark chocolate, melted together, whisked until thick and then cooled. Cover the cake; thinly on the top and thickly on the sides.

Buy the best profiteroles you can and mound them up on the top. Mr Marks and Mrs Spencer do a ready made pyramid, so that's what I used. Add a few more decoration, stars, glitter and silver balls.

Process onto the dining room amid loud oohs and aahs! Serve with cream.

I couldn't resist giving you the whole of this poem. Nothing changes does it!!

If a daughter you have, she's the plague of your life,
No peace shall you know, tho' you've buried your wife,
At twenty she mocks at the duty you taught her,
O, what a plague is an obstinate daughter.
Sighing and whining,
Dying and pining,
O, what a plague is an obstinate daughter!

When scarce in their teens, they have wit to perplex us,
With letters and lovers for ever they vex us,
While each still rejects the fair suitor you've brought her,
O, what a plague is an obstinate daughter.
Wrangling and jangling,
Flouting and pouting,
O, what a plague is an obstinate daughter! 

'If a Daughter You Have' by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)

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