Margaret (aka Margherita, Marina, Margaritha or Marine), known as Margaret of Antioch in the West (feast day July 20) and as Saint Marina in the East (feast day July 17), was a virgin martyr and one of the 14 Holy Helpers, a group of saints (Vierzehn Nothelfer). She was also one of the most venerated saints during the Middle Ages.
It is said that her father named Aedesius was a pagan priest in Antioch of Pisidia, (modern Turkey). Her mother died when Margaret was an infant, and the girl was raised by a Christian woman. Margaret’s father disowned her, her nurse adopted her, and Margaret converted, consecrating herself and her virginity to God.
According to one legend, during the reign (284–305) of the Roman emperor Diocletian, a Roman prefect by the name of Olybrius saw the beautiful young Margaret as she was tending sheep, and asked her to marry him. When she refused, the official denounced her as a outlaw Christian, and she was brought to trial. When she refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, the authorities tried to burn her, then boil her in a large cauldron but each time her prayers kept her unharmed. She was finally martyred by beheading. According to another legend it was her father who renounced her to Olybrius and her destiny took a similar route.
Part of her story involves her meeting the devil in the form of a dragon, being swallowed by the dragon, and then escaping safely when the cross she carried irritated the dragon‘s innards; this accounts for this virgin’s association with pregnancy, labor, and childbirth and her emblem, a dragon. She was one of the saints who appeared to Saint Joan of Arc (Jeanne d‘ Arc).
There are many well-known personalities and churches who were named after her. Too many to list them all, but I would like to point out a few. There was Saint Margaret of Scotland (1045- 1093) an English princess and a Scottish Queen who was cannonized in 1250 for her charitable work . Or Margaret I ( 1353-1412) the queen who founded the Kalmar Union of the Kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, spanning Scandinavia for over a century. And Margaret II, the current Queen of Denmark. There are hundreds of churches around the globe named after St Margaret, one that many of you might know is St Margaret's Church between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in London, UK.
And, of course, closer to (my) home, Margarete is a German feminine given name. It is derived from Ancient Greek 'margarites', meaning 'the pearl', via the Latin 'Margarita', it arrived in the German Sprachraum and related names include Gretchen (Faust) and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel), to name just two. And then my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my daughter carried and carry that beautiful name as well.
The cake in honor of St Margaret was devised at the Master School for Bakers and Confectioners (Kölner Meisterschule für Konditoren) in the City of Cologne (Germany). The cake is in the shape of a marguerite flower. After baking it can either be left unadorned, simply dusted with powdered sugar, or glazed with apricot jam and then finished with a simple sugar glaze or even decorated with marzipan of fondant 'petals'. Because the cake mold is so pretty, I much prefer the plain look. Due the finely grated marzipan in the batter, the cakes is moist and has the most wonderful almond flavor.
If you are interested in my 'carrot cake version' of the St Margaret's Cake pictured below, just take a look at the recipe HERE. The Gâteau aux Carottes (Carrot Cake) was inspired by a recipe from Pierre Hermé, the famous French pastry chef and chocolatier.
St Margaret’s Cake
(either use a special cake mold in the shape of a marguerite flower ø 26 cm/10 in, or use a springform pan)
For the Cake
- 250g unsalted butter (plus some for the mold), room temperature
- 100g finely grated marzipan (suitable for baking)
- 140g superfine (caster) sugar
- 6 egg yolks (M), organic or free range
- finely grated zest form 1 lemon (organic and/or un-treated)
- scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- 6 egg whites (M), organic or free range
- 1 pinch of fine sea salt
- 120g plain (AP) flour, plus some for the mold
- 80g corn starch
For the Glaze (optional)
- 100g apricot jam
- 8 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp freshly queezed lemon juice
- Butter and flour your mold. Set aside.
- Pre-heat your oven to 190° C (375°F).
- In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, marzipan and 1/3 of the sugar, beat until light and foamy. Gradually add one egg yolk at a time and beat each until well incorporated into the butter mixture, then add the lemon zest and the vanilla. Beat again.
- In another bowl beat the egg whites together with the salt until foamy, then gradually add the reamaing 2/3 of the sugar and continue ot beat until stiff peaks form.
- Sift together the flour with the corn starch.
- Now add the beaten egg whites alternating with the flour mixture to the butter mixtuer, taking care to gently fold them in, do not stir.
- Pour the batter into the prepared mold.
- Bake the cake for about 50 to 60 minutes, covering the cake during the last 15 minutes if it gets too dark.
- Take the cake out of the oven, place on a cooling rack and let it rest for a few minutes, then turn it out onto the rack.
- In the meantime heat the apricot jam with 2 tbsp water, strain (if necessary) and glaze the cake, let dry for about 30 minutes.
- For the sugar glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and glaze the cake, let dry again and serve.
(für Margaretenkuchenform oder Springform ø 26 cm; wird traditionell zum Margaretentag am 20. Juli gebacken)
Für den Teig
- 250g Butter (etwas extra für die Form)
- 100g Marzipan-Rohmasse, fein gerieben
- 140g feinster Zucker
- 6 Eigelb (M), Bio-oder Freilandlandhaltung
- Abrieb von 1 Bio-Zitrone
- Mark einer halben Vanilleschote
- 6 Eiweiß (M), Bio-oder Freilandhaltung
- 1 Prise feines Salz
- 120g Weizenmehl Type 405 (etwas extra für die Form)
- 80g Speisestärke
Für die Glasur (optional)
- 100g Aprikosenmarmelade
- 8 EL Puderzucker
- 1 EL Zitronensaft
- Eine Margaretenkuchenform oder eine Springform mit Butter ausstreichen und dünn mit Mehl ausstreuen.
- Den Backofen auf 190° C Ober-Unterhitze oder 175-180° C Umluft vorheizen.
- Die Butter mit der Marzipan-Rohmasse und einem Drittel des Zuckers schaumig rühren, nach und nach die Eigelbe, den Zitronenabrieb und die Vanille dazugeben.
- Die Eiweiße mit der Prise Salz schaumig aufschlagen, den restlichen Zucker einrieseln lassen und dann steif schlagen.
- Das Mehl mit der Speisestärke sieben.
- Den Eischnee abwechselnd mit der Mehlmischung unter die Butter-Marzipan-Masse heben.
- Die Teig in die vorbereitete Backform füllen und die Oberfläche glatt streichen.
- Den Kuchen auf der 2. Schiene von unten 50 bis 60 Minuten backen, eventuell in den letzten 15 Minuten abdecken.
- Nach dem Backen auf ein Kuchengitter stürzen, etwas abkühlen lassen und dann für den Guss die Aprikosenmarmelade mit 2 EL Wasser erwärmen, event. durch ein Sieb passieren und den Kuchen damit dünn bestreichen (aprikotieren), 30 Minuten trocknen lassen.
- Für den Guss den Puderzucker mit dem Zitronensaft verrühren und den Kuchen damit anschließend glasieren, austrocknen lassen und servieren.
Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a local radio station, where, throughout the years, I present festive bakes that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.
The various recipes of my series can be found here:
- in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
- for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
- for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
- for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
- for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
- for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
- for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
- for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
- for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
- for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
- for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
- for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
- for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE)
- for New Year's Eve a New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
- for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
- for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE)
- for St Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE)
- for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE)
- for Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag) these very pretty Palm Pretzels (Palmbrezel) (HERE)
- for Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) an Easter Brunch at Home with Tarte Flambée (Flammkuchen) (HERE)
- for the Month of May (Marienmonat Mai) these elegant Visitandines de Nancy (HERE)
- for Pentecost/Whitsun (Pfingsten) festive Beignets (Heiliggeistkrapfen) (HERE)
- for St John's Day (Johannistag) these sweet St John Cakelettes (Johannisküchlein) (HERE)
- for St Margaret’s Feast Day (Margaretentag)the delightful teacake called St Margaret’s Cake (Margaretenkuchen) (HERE) - more delicious treats to come very soon.