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Coventry Godcakes

Pies and Pastries

Baked puff pastry pasty containing sweet mincemeat. Folded into a triangular shape, glazed, marked with three slits or lines on the top and sprinkled with sugar. Godcakes are a New Year tradition in the city, and are given by godparents to their godchildren at Easter. The triangular shape and the markings may be a reference to the Holy Trinity.

Coventry Godcakes
Image: Alex Bray

'Notes and Queries' by "JWS" in the 'London Standard' of Wednesday 24 September 1856 notes that; "Coventry God-Cakes. - Can any of your readers give me information respecting the ancient custom in the city of Coventry of sending God cakes on the first day of the year. They are used by all classes, and vary in price from a halfpenny to one pound. They are invariably made in a triangular shape, an inch thick, and filled with a kind of mincemeat. I believe the custom is peculiar to that city, and should be glad to know more about its origin. So general is the use of them on January 1, that the cheaper sorts are hawked about the streets, as hot cross buns are on Good Friday in London."

Although modern Godcakes are typically like triangular pasties, our correspondent Ron Shuttleworth - from Coventry - says that
"I could find no illustration which showed them as I know them and the one recipe made them very differently. It's not an equilateral triangle and is as though someone has tried to do it without having seen one.
So here goes. To make them, you cut a circle of pastry about 5" or 6" across (we used a saucepan lid) and put the filling in the centre. Fold three edges in along the sides of a triangle and crimp the edges to make three ridges from the corners to the centre. This enhances the "Trinity" connection. Due to the way the pastry is cut, these don't quite meet in the middle thus forming the vent. They were traditionally given at New Year." (2018)

This sounds remarkably like the traditional Jewish 'hamantaschen' tarts which are a feature of the Purim holiday, and which look like this..

Image: Unknown

Coventry Godcakes
Image: Esquires Coffee Houses

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