by Gordon Nary
St. Clement was either the second or third Pope because of some conflicting records by early historians. Very few details are known about his life other than he was consecrated by St. Peter, Clement was bizarrely martyred by being drowned in the sea with an anchor attached to his neck. He is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church.
St Clement achieved culinary immortality because he was the name saint of Clement Faugier of Privas, France. Privas was a one-industry town in the nineteenth century with most of the local jobs based on the silk industry. When the silk industry began to slump, Faugier organized a commercial factory to produce one of the town's local delicacies, marrons glaces (candied chestnuts). Faugier's marrons glaces and chestnut purees are still one of the most popular French brands of chestnut products today. To help create a demand for his product, Faugier devised several chestnut recipes which he named after his name saint, including the famous Charlotte a la St. Clement. There is another culinary connection to St. Clement which is based on a somewhat gory 17th century nursery rhyme about the bells of London.
"Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's "When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey "When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch "When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney "I do not know" say the Great Bells of Bow
"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head Chip chop chip chop - the Last Man's Dead."
St Clements is a small church situated in St. Clements Lane, in London which was rebuilt in 1687 by Sir Christopher Wren after it was destroyed in 1666 during the Great London Fire. The "Oranges and lemons" refer to the citrus fruits unloaded at the nearby wharves where they were also sold The popularity of the nursery rhyme prompted the creation of St. Clement's cake which was flavored with orange and lemon juice and grated rinds, St. Clement's cake soon became a popular British Christmas holiday cake and has evolved over the centuries to a wide number of variations.
Charlotte a la St. Clement (Chestnut Charlotte Russe)
6 cup charlotte mold
1 doz for ladyfingers 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup cold milk 1 15-1/2 oz can sweetened chestnut puree
1 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup dark rum
dash salt 1 TB vanilla 5 egg whites oil for mold marrons glace (candied chestnuts) for a garnish
Soften gelatin in milk for 5 minutes. Place mixture over boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
Combine chestnut puree, whipping cream, rum, vanilla, and softened gelatin in a large bowl. Mix until smooth (preferably with a rotary beater). Chill in refrigerator until it begins to set (about 1 hour).
Lightly oil a 6 cup charlotte mold. Split ladyfingers lengthwise. Cut to correct height to fit mold. Remove chestnut mixture from refrigerator. Fold egg whites into chestnut mixture.
Line charlotte mold with prepared ladyfingers. Chill until set overnight or at least 6 hours. Decorate with marrons glaces.
St. Clement's Cake
1/2 lb butter, very soft
1/2 lb sugar ) 1/2 lb eggs, weighed in their shells (about 4 large), at room temperature 1/2 lb self-raising flour*
1/2 lemon 1/2 orange 1/2 cup candied peel 1/3 cup granulated sugar, for the glaze
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf tin and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and half pound of sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour in a few additions, combining well after each addition.
Zest the lemon and orange into the batter and fold in along with the candied peel.
Spoon batter into prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, juice the lemon and orange halves. Dissolve the 1/3 cup sugar in the citrus juice and brush over the top and sizes of the fully-cooled cake. Leave a few minutes to let the glaze set up before enjoying.
Store in an airtight container.
© 2012 Gordon Nary