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Love Feast Cake- a Tasty Fruit Cake for Valentine's Day

Updated on January 30, 2018

Saint Valentine's Day

The celebration of St. Valentine’s Day as a romantic occasion possibly dates back to the 1400’s when a Frenchman named Charles, Duke of Orleans, who languished in an English prison after the battle of Agincourt in 1415 sent his wife a rhymed love letter from his cell in the Tower of London.

It’s a bit confused as to the origins of the saint himself; there are two Valentines listed in the Roman histories of saints. Both were martyred on February 14th by being beheaded for their beliefs. One died in what today is called Terni, about 95 kilometres outside Rome. The other, who was killed in Rome, was killed during a persecution of the Christians in A.D. 269 by Claudius the Goth. A basilica was built to honour him on the site of his death in about 350 A.D. his remains were interned in catacombs beneath the building.

There are a number of mentions of Valentine’s day in early English literature; When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate’ which referred to the fact that it was thought that birds chose their mates on that day according to Geoffrey Chaucer. William Shakespeare also mentioned this belief in A Midsummer Night's Dream. A character in the play discovers two lovers in the woods and asks, "St. Valentine is past; / Begin these woodbirds but to couple

During the 1700’s friends would draw names from a hat and wear the name on their sleeve, which could be where ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ came from. In the early 1800’s the practice of sending letters and cards was so established that they began to be commercially produced. Kate Greenway became famous for her designs in particular cards or smiling, happy children.

Love Feast Cake

With St. Valentine’s Day falling next month I thought this was very fitting recipe.

Chapel outings were very popular in the early years of the 19th century and in the 18th century quarterly ‘Love Feasts’ were held at which a two-handled cup and pieces of ‘Love Feast’ cake and fruit were handed round. The women did all the baking of bread and cakes, and the Scripture Cake was also served. Such a feast might be held in a marquee at a beauty spot and be attended by as many as 1,500 people,


In the early days, the cake was made with yeast, but later on baking powder was used.

900g (2 lb) plain flour

175g (6 oz) each butter and lard

450g (1 lb) sugar

450g (1 lb) currants

1 tablespoon candied lemon peel or grated peel of 1 lemon

225g (8 oz) sultanas or raisins

1 teaspoon mixed spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3 eggs

150 ml (1/4 pint) approximately, milk

Rub the shortening into the sifted flour and salt. Then add all the other ingredients except the eggs and milk. Beat the eggs well with the milk and then add to the mix. Work it until it forms a soft, firm dough. Put into greased loaf or cake tins and bake in a moderate oven (180 degree C, 350 degree F, gas mark 4) for about 1 hour, but test with a thin skewer in the centre before taking from the heat.

The most romantic record ever

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 55 min
Yields: one loaf
5 stars from 1 rating of bread


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    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire

      Derdriu, I like the old traditions, have you ever heard the song 'On Ilkley Moor baht hat'? I've a hub in the pipeline about it, which also covers chapel days out and I'm thinking of reviving this hub with it, or should I make a new one?

      quick hat doff and then i'm off


    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Tony, What an ingenious, innovative, interesting tribute to St Valentine's Day through a love feast cake! In particular, I like the cultural information about chapel outings and St Valentine (Will the real St Valentine please stand up?). Also, I like the option of using baking powder instead of yeast and the inclusion of currants, lemon peel, mixed spices, and raisins.

      Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing, Derdriu

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire

      Stessily, I thought you would know Blake, you seem so well read in so many different areas. I read an article on his dark satanic mills saying that he really meant the universities of Oxford and Cambridge which apparently he disliked. I think that's just southern propergander, they hate anyhting to be from the north. There is a real divide in mind sets between the south-east, London, and the north. I would happily give LOndon to the French which would probably balance our books and clear the national debt.

      HI ho Silver away...

    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Tony, William Blake is one of my favorites. The only lines which come to mind right now are from "Auguries of Innocence":

      "To see a world in a grain of sand,

      And a heaven in a wild flower,

      Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

      And eternity in an hour."

      I also hold dear "Jerusalem" and was pleased to hear it beautifully performed at the recent royal wedding of Wills and his Cate.

      I've long loved the image of a "chariot of fire", both through Blake's imagery and also through the pertinent Biblical passages in 2nd Kings (2:11, 6:17). One of my favorite films is "Chariots of Fire", which took its title from Blake and which also included "Jerusalem" in its soundtrack.

      Another favorite English hymn, among so many, is "I Vow to Thee My Country." It brings the tears out in me each and every time. From time to time I watch the YouTube video of its performance at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Princess Diana; it was quite a stirring performance, and the camera angles really touched me. In fact, I started a hub about that performance but set it aside because of overwhelming emotions concerning her life. Some day, I expect, I shall finish it.


    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire

      And did those feet in ancient time

      Walk upon England's mountains green?

      And was the holy Lamb of God

      On England's pleasant pastures seen?

      And did the Countenance Divine

      Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

      And was Jerusalem builded here

      Among these dark Satanic Mills?

      Bring me my bow of burning gold!

      Bring me my arrows of desire!

      Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!

      Bring me my charriot of fire!

      William Blake, a much loved poet, here at least.

      this set to music is probably the all time favourite of every English heart that has beaten since the turn of the 19th century. It's the song most would choose as our national anthem, if we had a chance to get rid of the dreary durge we now have. It is a tune and words that gives me a very uncomfortable throat and a little tear.


    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Tony, A Valentine's card would be a bit of a surprise! I'm not a chocoholic, and candy is strongly linked with Valentine's Day, at least in the areas where I've lived. Now the love feast cake sounds like a nice tradition! I love lemons. So, if I lived in an area where Valentine's Day is celebrated with lemon love feast cake, I just might fit the Valentine's Day profile.:-)

      I've studied pagan festivals and found them fascinating, especially when they've been transformed to form part of subsequent religious traditions, but dark satanic mills in UK's industrial past . . . I don't remember knowing about that. Yikes!


    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire


      are you expecting any Valentine's cards? SO many of these old recipes are tied up with old traditions, some are even pagen in origin. Around here many things are tied to our industrial past, the dark satanic mills and all that sort of thing.


    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Tony, The background of love feast cakes and the history of Valentine's Day are fascinating. Thank you for including this information. As with everything in the world, recipes have interesting histories, inspirations, and anecdotes. I always enjoy reading background highlights; they help to complete the picture.

      This recipe sounds delicious. Lemon peels, grated or candied, add wonderful texture and flavor.

      Thanks for sharing.

      "see you", Stessily