|Our Twelfth Night Party|
by Barbara Laufersweiler
|Have you wondered how to throw a Christmas party without that frazzled feeling that’s entirely too common in December?
It’s possible if you just do what I do: have a Twelfth Night party to celebrate the very last - yes, the twelfth - day of Christmas! After the busy days of December and the excitement of Christmas Day, followed a week later by New Year’s, I’m not quite ready to face somber January. Actually, I don’t have to - it’s time to get ready for our annual Twelfth Night party.
|I’ve developed a schedule, a recipe collection, and a To Do/To Get list. When I do my holiday dinner shopping in November and December, I pick up what I need for our Twelfth Night party as well. Our invitation list is somewhat based on our Christmas card list. I develop the party invitation list and design the invitations (usually postcards, since our party is quite casual) at the same time as our Christmas cards - between Thanksgiving and the first week of December - and set them aside until after Christmas Day. |
Two days after Christmas is my personal deadline for mailing the invitations. A few days after Christmas, if I want Christmas-themed paper plates and napkins I pick them up at sale prices. We clean the house thoroughly before New Year’s. I have collected recipes for easy make-ahead hors d’oeuvres as well as a few chocolate desserts and a rich cake or two that will keep well or freeze well; I make the food January 1 - 4.
The day before, January 4, I tidy the house, put away all clutter, and make the bathrooms spiffy, as well as set up the kitchen for party fun. For dinner that night, we order pizza! I always have things left to do on the day of the party, but if I take care of most of my To Do/To Get list beforehand, I am much more relaxed, I can enjoy the last-minute things, and I don’t stress out my kids!
When the last guests have left, my husband and I like to put away leftover food, take care of dishes, and take out the garbage, so we will wake up to a relatively tidy house, a usable kitchen, and a dishwasher full of clean dishes. It’s a nice way to relax after hosting a party, too. The day after is January 6, Epiphany, when we pack away the nativity scene and the rest of the Christmas decorations, and play Christmas music one last time while eating… party leftovers! Our Twelfth Night tradition is a great way to end the Christmas season.
King Cake "Twelfth Night"
I'm not trying to say that my version of king cake is better than your
favorite. But it does taste pretty good to me, without adding all sorts
of extras that change the nature of the cake. Kelly Griggs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget to tell non-Orleanians and other not in the know that
there's a foreign object (the baby) in there!
1 1/2 envelopes dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. orange zest (grated peel)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 sticks butter, softened (not melted)
6 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 oz. nut-flavored liqueur (i.e. Amaretto or Nocello)
1/2 cup sugar, divided three ways
Blue, red, green, and yellow food coloring.
And, of course, the plastic baby
1. In the microwave, heat 1/3 cup of water in a bowl until barely
warm to the touch. Stir in the yeast and 1 tsp. of sugar. Set aside
until it foams.
2. Mix about a third of the flour into the water until a dough forms.
Stir the salt and orange zest into the remaining flour.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer (preferably one strong enough to
knead bread dough, although you can also do it by hand), blend the
butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in five egg yolks, one at a time.
Scrape down the side of the bowl once or twice during the process.
Finally, add the buttermilk, vanilla and the liqueur.
4. Add the dough from step 2, and then slowly add the remaining
flour until you have a well-blended but very soft, supple firm dough.
Add a little more water if necessary if the dough is too dry. (You can
do this either with a mixer or by hand.)
5. Make the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover
with a damp cloth and allow to rise for two hours.
6. Punch the dough down on a board, and divide into three pieces.
Roll them into tubes about 2 feet long each. Braid the three tubes
loosely, staggering the ends. Form into a circle or oval, and braid
the ends. (You can wet the ends with a little water to tie them end to
6. Dust the ring lightly with cinnamon, and hide the baby or other
gewgah inside the cake somewhere. Place on a greased cookie
sheet, cover with a damp cloth. and allow to rise in a warm place for
about 30 more minutes.
7. Beat one whole egg with a tablespoon of milk, and brush the top
of the cake with the mixture. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven
for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Brush the top with more
nut liqueur, if you like, and allow to cool.
8. To make colored sugar, put the sugar into a small jar (baby food
jars are perfect) and add three drops of food coloring. (One blue and
two red for the purple.) Shake until all the sugar is colored. Decorate
the cake with the colored sugars, alternating colors in broad stripes.
Makes one round king cake, about 9 inches in diameter.