14 November 2009

Happy Feast of St. Martin!

 I  believe that it is actually on November 11th (as noted over at Appletarte) but it is celebrated here today. One local Maltese  tradition for St. Martin which is still carried on here is giving children small cloth bags full of nuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit. My husband's parents however remember walking through the small streets here as children carrying lanterns made of pumpkins and singing. Mostly they remember fondly the shadows of the lanterns cast on the walls.
Today I made a traditional Maltese St. Martines Cake (it is delicious) and has become a favourite for runner for the start of the Christmas holidays in our house.
It tastes lovely and makes the house smell  of christmas, cinnamon, oranges and cloves... !
Here is the Recipe

Maltese St. Martins Cake
250 grams dates chopped
200 ml boiling water
125 grams self raising flour
(if you live where there is no self raising flour then use one cup white flour and 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder).
200 grams toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
100 grams dried figs chopped
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest and juice of one whole orange

First let the chopped dates soak in the boiling water for at least one hour. then add in the other ingredients (setting aside a handful of the nuts to sprinkle on top), lightly stir and bake at 350 F or 180 C for 30 min.
Simple as that and so good next to a hot cup or tea or coffee.

*Note it is not a very sweet cake so if you like you can add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar but really the dried fruit and orange juice sweeten it just fine.


  1. hi, I've baked mine on friday and went down a treat. I love baking traditions, wherever they come from :). Our cake is nearly finished. Today up in bahrija there will be celebrations for St. Martin and also something completly different there is a bool fair in MCC (mediterranean conference centre in Valletta) and at around 4pm there will be stories read by Trevor Zahra. I think these will be in Maltese, but maybe you will be interested too! Have a nice Sunday.

  2. Just saw your comment on my blog. Please feel free to link to my blog :)

  3. That cake sounds scrumptious!!

    C x

  4. I'll definitely try that cake this week. It really looks good!

  5. Thanks for the recipe - it just may top off our Sunday dinner (although I admit it's competing with carrot cake at the moment...)

  6. yippie, I'll try this one this week, love not to sweet cakes!!!!

    PS. don't you just love Dear Francesca????

  7. If you like cakes that aren't super sweet then you will enjoy this one, and it's very healthy as there is no butter and no sugar but the fruit keeps it very moist and sweet.
    I heard a great interview with Mary Contini about her cook book some weeks ago and so her book has been on my wish list but I don't actually own it. Do you? She sounded very down to earth , witty and informative as regards the how and why of traditional Italian cooking- was very impressed! And of course was charmed by her thick Scottish accent!


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