Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Punch-Bowl Cake

Christmas Punch-Bowl Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

Punch-bowls go hand in hand with celebrating holidays and are an important part of our history. When I got married a punch-bowl was considered a requirement for setting up a household. By the time my daughter got married she considered the punch-bowl a nice decorative ornament but not a necessity. In the past punch-bowls were used on a daily basis.

Punch was first an Eastern drink taken from the Hindi word panch meaning five for the five ingredients used to make punch as early as the mid 1600’s. Punch was introduced to the West in the late seventeenth century and soon became the drink of England spreading to the American colonies by the eighteenth century where making punch was considered a social accomplishment and flowed freely. Punch drinking experienced its height from 1650 to around 1850. Punch-bowls were used at husking parties, apple bees, timber-rolling, elections, house-raisings, land sales, church dedications, baby christenings, and weddings. At funerals experienced committees were appointed who took extra pains to mix and flavor the funeral punch. On Christmas Eve the punch bowl- some which held up to two gallons- was filled and a silver coin and wedding ring dropped in to bring good luck to whoever received the item in their punch as people went from house to house.

Punch-bowls ranged in different sizes from seven inches in diameter up to eight gallons. The earliest bowls were made from the English and Dutch. In the mid-eighteenth century Chinese porcelain became fashionable among the upper class. It wasn’t until the nineteen century when cut glass punch-bowls were produced to use at festive occasions. George Washington established the tradition of serving punch to Congress on July four, 1790. The largest punch-bowl is the grand blue and white punch-bowl used by the first Continental Congress. The finest punch-bowl is of Liverpool Delft (twenty inches and one half across) painted with blue ships and landscapes. The oldest punch-bowl is eighteen inches in diameter, decorated in red and gold, and resides in New York.

Fashionable people in Boston served punch before dinner. By 1810 the Temperance movement was gaining momentum, which disapproved of punch drinking. Non-alcoholic punches began to circulate and soon punch became affiliated with church socials and ladies teas. Today the punch-bowl is used more as an ornament except for special occasions. So I was excited a couple of years ago to discover a dessert recipe that uses a punch-bowl. Christmas Punch-Bowl Cake is easy to prepare using a variety of ingredients that highlight the red and green Christmas colors when put in a glass punch-bowl. Preparation time equals about fifteen minutes and serves around fifteen to twenty.

Christmas Punch-Bowl Cake

1 angel food cake already made
2 cans crushed pineapple
2 boxes of vanilla pudding made up
16 oz container of cool whip
2 cans of cherry pie filling
green sprinkles

Tear angel food cake into small pieces. Layer angel food cake pieces in bottom of glass punch-bowl. Sprinkle with green sprinkles and layer pudding on top. Spoon on crushed pineapple, and then cherry pie filling. Layer cool whip. Do this four times. Garnish the top cool whip layer with red & green sprinkles to form wreath, use small red & green decorative candy pieces, or pipe red and green icing gel in circles and weave knife through. Cover with saran wrap and chill. Can serve the punch-bowl cake in the punch glasses!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: or htpp:// for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

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