Kitchen Witch: Beltane Celebration Recepies

May Day Maple Hearth Bread

This is a very crusty and somewhat dry bread that is incredibly delicious and almost pastry-like in its sweetness. It is ideal for May Day/Beltane celebrations.

1 envelope active dry yeast
1/3 cup real maple syrup
¼ cup warm water (105ºF-115ºF)
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening

Dissolve yeast in the water. Mix 1 ½ cups of the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening. Dissolve the syrup into the yeast mix too. Add yeast mix to the flour mix; stir. Add flour until dough is easy to handle. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Form into round, place on cookie sheet. Let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Slice pleasing image into bread top. Bake for 30 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Loaf can be brushed with syrup or butter during last 5 minutes of baking.

NOTE: Your bread will have trouble rising if the syrup is too cold! Warm up the syrup if it has been in the refrigerator, it should be room temperature or warmer.

Yield: 1 loaf

May Serpent Cake

The serpent or snake is a symbol of May because of its ancient association with fertility. This association dates back to the earliest Pagan religions, and though later religions cropped up casting the serpent in a deceitful role, the Earth religions still honor the snake as a blessed creature this time of year. Its way of slithering along the body of the Earth made it an obvious phallic symbol, and May Day is full of such symbols (the maypole being the most well-known one).

The holiday of Beltane comes on the first of May and encourages those who celebrate life to greet spring's bounty with festivities, and that of course always involves food. This snake-shaped cake, incorporating appropriate seasonal ingredients, is a wonderful addition to a party table.


3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
The zest of one orange
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons honey, boiling
1/2 cup strong espresso coffee
1 egg
1/3 cup amaretto or rum
1/3 cup wild cherry or raspberry jam
Garnish: 4 coffee beans and some candied orange peel, in slices

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Mix the sugar, spices, zest, soda, and salt into the flour in a bowl. Cut in the butter until little pebbles form. Pour in the honey, coffee, and liqueur, and mix in the egg. Mix the batter until everything is evenly distributed and you have a nice soft dough. Let it cool. Turn it out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Roll one half into an 18-inch rope. Make a deep trough down the center and fill it with jam. Seal it by bringing the edges up over the jam and pressing the seam together. Then flip it seam-side-down onto a parchment-paper-covered baking sheet. Arrange the snake in a circle, but don't press the ends together. Make one end tapered like the end of a snake's tail, and make the other end triangular like a snake's head. Press in coffee beans for eyes and orange rind for scales if desired. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and bake them for 30 minutes.

Beltane Sugar Pie~

From about the middle of spring up through the harvest season, pies are wonderful celebratory foods. However, there's a difference between a "summer" pie and an "autumn" pie; usually the autumn pies will incorporate heavy foods (like potato, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes) while spring and early summer tend to be better matched with pies made of summer fruits like strawberries and blueberries. However, there is one type of pie often overlooked during this time of year: The CREAM pie. Milk and dairy may have already had their highlight in late winter and early spring (with Imbolc and Ostara), but in the old world this time of year still had milk available, and this is as good a time as any to enjoy it!

Beltane--May Day--is a perfect holiday to present a particular cream pie dusted with nutmeg. It's nice and milky and filling, and fits well with the Beltane lustiness and intentional gluttony even though it is comparatively bland in color beside all the festive red party foods that often adorn a Beltane table.


1 cup whole milk
1 cup rich cream
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ground nutmeg
Baked pie shell

Melt butter in a wide pan on medium heat. Add the milk to the cornstarch in a separate bowl, letting the cornstarch soak up the milk before adding more; make sure it's an even mixture when all the milk is added. Add this milk and cream mixture to the butter in the pan along with the sugar, and stir it constantly until it thickens. (It will probably start to boil and then become thick--you'll know it when it's thick enough because it will attain a pudding-like consistency.) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour it into the pie shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Once it's set, it can be eaten still warm from the pot or it can be chilled to set more firmly and served cold.

Yield: 1 9- or 10-inch pie

Beltane Sugar Pie II~

Another rich and creamy pie but slightly different. This pie is very sweet and creamy, and it 's laced with a hint of vanilla. Lots of sugar, heavy cream and flour are combined, and then milk and vanilla are mixed in. The filling is poured into an unbaked pie crust, dotted with butter, sprinkled with nutmeg and baked

1 prepared 8 inch pastry shell
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, chilled and diced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (225 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour, and cream. Add milk and vanilla extract, and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle top with nutmeg and dot evenly with small chunks of butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 45 minutes

Fried Honeycakes

These cakes were left in the garden to please Faery visitors. If you plan to leave an offering to the Faery, double the recipe to keep some for your family. They're scrumptious.

1/2 cup sweet white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 cup honey
2/3 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Oil for frying
1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat the wine & egg in a medium bowl. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt & sugar in a small bowl. Stir into the egg mixture. Let stand 30 minutes. Combine the honey & nutmeg in a small bowl.
Heat 1/2-inch of the oil in a frying pan until hot, but not smoking. Drop the batter into the oil 1 tablespoon at a time; fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Dip into the honey.
Yield: 1 1/2 Dozen.

May Wine


1 bottle of white wine (German is ideal)
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
12 sprigs of woodruff, fresh

Pour wine into a wide mouth jar or carafe. Add the sliced strawberries and woodruff, and let sit for an hour or more. Strain and serve chilled.

Dandelion Salad


1/2 pound torn dandelion greens
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, toss together dandelion greens, red onion, and tomatoes. Season with basil, salt, and pepper.
Makes 4 servings

Candied Violets


1 Egg White
Granulated Sugar

Whip your egg white until it is frothy, but does not peak. Gather the Violets, washing them quickly in cool water and allowing them to drip-dry. Then, dip each Violet in the egg white and roll the flowers in the sugar to coat them evenly. Be careful not to put the sugar on too thick. Finally, leave the petals on waxed paper to dry for 1 day. These may be stored for several months in an airtight container (waxed paper between each layer.) without losing fragrance or flavor.

Strawberry Cookies

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
red and green food coloring

Cream the sugar and shortening until fluffy, on medium speed if using an electronic mixer. Beat in egg, milk, zest, and extract. Sift flour and powder together in a bowl and gradually add to the other mix. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Half dough and put the other half back in the fridge. Form dough into flattened balls and roll to 1/8 inch on a floured surface. Using strawberry-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies, and cut out little indentations like strawberry seeds if desired.
Put 1 tablespoon of water into each of two dishes and add a few drops of each color of food coloring. Paint the cookies with a paintbrush using the colors, making the body of the strawberry red and the stem and leaves green. Bake them on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes, then cool on racks. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
Yield: 5 dozen

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