Little Almond, Polenta and Orange Cakes
The origins of Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland trace their way back to the religious tradition of Mothering Sunday, when those who had left home to work in service returned to their ‘mother church’ for Laetare Sunday. This holiday in turn finds its roots in the Roman festival of Matronalia, an early spring celebration of the goddess Juno Lucina, who watched over married women and those in childbirth. Small cakes of ground almonds and fine flour (known as simila) were given as offerings in Roman times; these have since lent their name to the well-known Simnel cake. The later English tradition of Mothering Sunday continued in a similar vein, and included bringing home gifts of Simnel cakes and other baked goods (due to a break in the 40-day fast of Lent) and new spring flowers. The earliest historical record is seen in the mid-1600s in the work of the poet Robert Herrick, when he writes ‘I'le to thee a Simnel bring/'Gainst thou go'st a mothering,’
On a personal level, there is another association that I will forever have with Mother’s Day - the secret ninja baking skills that mothers and grandmothers acquire through years of quiet and consistent magic-making. I have no memory of my grandmother, a very practical Kerrywoman, ever looking at a recipe, but I can still clearly remember watching her bake. I always had a fascination with the process of making; I remember her quick and deft hands peeling and coring apples at turbo-speed, nimbly rubbing butter into melt-in-the-mouth pastry, turning soda bread over in clouds of flour.
There are many recipes I heartily recommend for Mother’s Day - Buttermilk Pancakes in bed, or edible gifts of plump Lemon Madeleines or cookies. For delicious teatime treats, Lemon Tart is always a winner - team one of our trusty pastry recipes with newly emerging forced rhubarb or citrus lingering from late winter. A baker should always have a good pastry recipe in their repertoire; I recommend making ours from scratch as often as possible so that you begin to know the exact process and texture (as a tribute to the dedication of baking mums and grandmothers everywhere!).
Our Little Almond, Polenta and OrangeCakes nod back to the Roman offerings of simila, and for those veering towards a savoury Mother's Day celebration, our savoury Ricotta, Kale, and Roasted Shallot Galette or Potato and Celeriac Gratin recipes are perfect for a light Sunday lunch.
All of these recipes and more are available in the Drop kitchen app. We're sure you'll find something wonderful to make for the mums in your life, whatever your skill level!