Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Opening of the Horizons

This is a name of a festival that occurs May 2nd (Sort of, we will have to discuss calenders at some point.). This day is sacred to Aker, the dual lion god who guards the Eastern and Western horizons. On this day he comes forth to be with the people in celebration of the continued rising of the sun. In Ancient Egyptian the day is sometimes called Up-re-Aahkhu-t, the opening of the horizon. 

It was believed on this day Aker (Sef- yesterday in the west and Tuau - Today in the East) would come forth among the people to celebrate the strength of the sun as well as the ability of the sun to bring strength and life to all other things. Secondary in the festival is a day of thanks to Aker for continuing to protect the horizon and watching to ensure only those beings that should pass the bounds of the horizon.

Limestone carving showing a 4th dynasty offering
table - British Museum

Aside from beer and bread, honey cakes were also used in this festival as a sacred/offering food. Beer and wine were honeyed as well according to some records that are assumed to refer to this celebration. Honey was sacred to the sun. The Egyptians believed honey was the tears of the sun because of the way honeycombs drip honey when exposed to the midday heat of the sun. 

I thought I would share a recipe for a likely candidate for the traditional Ancient Egyptian honey cake.

Ingredients:
For the cake:
.5 cups softened, unsalted butter
6 oz caster or super fine sugar
2 eggs
.5 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lbs semolina flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 oz flaked or sliced almonds
1Tbsp honey

For the syrup:
5 oz caster or super fine sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp honey
.5 cups water

To make cake:
*Beat butter and sugar until smooth
* add eggs one at a time beating after each addition
*Stir in milk, vanilla, honey
* Then stir in semolina and baking powder. Ensure it is well mixed.
*Grease a 8x8 baking pan and pour in batter. Sprinkle with almonds.
*Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes until firm and lightly browned.
*Remove from oven and move to serving dish (I find giving it a few moments to set is helpful.)

To make syrup:
*Mix sugar and water in a pan simmering gently until sugar is completely dissolved.
* Add lemon juice and honey, stirring constantly.
* While syrup is still hot, pour slowly over cake allowing it to soak into the cake. 

*Serve with fresh or dried fruit traditionally though it is good with ice cream as well.

While I have listed this cake for this festival it was used in many offerings and festivals. It was the all purpose offering cake/sweet in many tomb scenes as well. 

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