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Kattern Cake

Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Dorset

(or Cattern, or Catherine cake, whigs. Also known as Spinster's Cake)

Sweetened leavened bread made with butter and caraway seeds, traditionally washed down with Hot Pot or 'Cattern Bowl' - a hot spiced drink.

St Catherine of Alexandria

The name most likely comes from Saint Catherine, the patroness of spinners, lace-makers, rope-makers and spinsters on whose feast day of 25th November they were prepared, especially among single women in the lace-making districts of Bedford and Northamptonshire in a festival known as 'Cattaring'.

'Brands Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain' (revised 1854) reports that the festival included children going from door-to-door to beg apples and beer, singing;
Catt'n and Clement comes year by year.
Some of your apples and some of your beer;
Some for Peter, some for Paul,
Some for Him who made us all

And that the dean and chapter of Worcester distributed; "a rich compound of wine, spices, &c...called the Cattern or Catharine bowl."

But by the 1859 the Wiltshire Archeological Society were recording that; "Kattern cakes are carried about for sale on St Katherine's day November 25th. It seems a pure matter of vulgar merchandise. There are no rhymes, no bowl, no jollity, no maidens making merry together and looking out for good husbands by help of the patroness of spinsters."

We think it very unlikely, as has occasionally been suggested, that they have any association with Catherine of Aragon.

See also:
Dumb Cake
Kattern Cake
Spinster's Cake
Tandry Cakes

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