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Small spiced bread cakes thrown to the crowds by the mayor of Harwich, and formerly some other Suffolk towns, at the annual Mayor-Making ceremony on the third Thursday in May.
The tradition may derive from a more general practice of giving a special cake to ask for a blessing, particularly with 'God's Kitchel Cakes' given to children asking for a blessing by the godparents. (Moor 1823, etc)
Harwich Mayor Making and 'Kitchel' Throwing Ceremony, 1963
Images: East Anglia Film Archive
Suffolk Words and Phrases of 1828 by Edward Moor has; "Kichel: A flat Christmas cake of a triangular shape with sugar and a few currants strow'd over the top - differing, only in shape, I believe from a bun."
Original Receipt from the Suffolk Local Authorities website '1Suffolk';
The Kitchel is traditionally used to mark the start of the Harwich mayor's term. After the ceremony, the new mayor, throws the small sweet buns, known as Kitchels, to the town’s children from the balcony of the historic Guildhall. This tradition has been going for over 400 years.
16oz Puff Pastry
3oz candied peel
2oz ground almonds
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Melt the butter in a saucepan and remove from the heat.
Add the washed currants, candied peel, ground almonds, spices and mix well.
Divide the pastry in half and roll both pieces it into a thin square shape.
Moisten the edges with water and spread the currant mixture over the pastry, avoiding the moistened edges.
Cover the mixture with the remaining piece of pastry and press the edges well together to seal.
Carefully mark the top of the pastry with a knife into sections but be careful not to cut right through to the filling.
Bake in a very hot oven for around 30minutes.
Sprinkle with caster sugar and cut into sections whilst still warm.
For a similar tradition, see: Abingdon Buns
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