Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tonsure of St Francis Cake

Yesterday morning I went to a garage sale. I was very fortunate to pick up a 9cup Nordicware Bundt pan for $1! I always like those moments, because often there is something about the timing of finding these treasures.

I looked at that Bundt pan and thought about the feast of St Francis that was going to be on the following day and I recalled to my mind this famous painting of the great saint:

If you were to play a Catholic version of a word association game and someone was to say to you, "Tonsure!" would you say, "St Francis!!" ? I think I would! Out of all the saints that had a tonsure I think St Francis would be one of the most famous and most memorable.

So what is a tonsure? Here is the explanation at

But to be brief, a tonsure was often a rite among religious monks as a symbol of their renunciation of the world and it's allure. There is this biblical reference to a tonsure in the Acts of the Apostles in Chapter 18:18:

"And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cen'chre-ae: for he had a vow."

Here is a close up of our beautiful San Damiano Crucifix, that we bought for our ds 14, who took St Francis as his confirmation saint a few years back.

Here is my very simple recipe for the Tonsure Cake, use any sort of ring cake mould you may have.

185 grams (6.5 oz) butter, soften
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup of caster sugar (fine, white sugar)
3 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
2 cups self-raising flour
5 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1/ Heat the oven to moderate. Grease your ring cake.

2/ Beat butter, essence and sugar in small bowl until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beat until combined.

3/ Stir in milk and sifted four and cocoa; spoon mixture into prepared pan.

4/ Bake cake in moderate oven for about an hour (I cooked it for about 50mins) Stand cake in pan 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack to cool.


1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon butter
2 or 3 tablespoons water

Pour icing mixture over the cake and then lastly I grated some dark chocolate and covered the warm icing mixture in grated chocolate to give the texture of short hair.

All done and ready to eat tonight with the family!

This can be a quick and easy cake to use for any of the saints who had tonsures...ones that come to mind are St Anthony and St Thomas Aquinas. There are probably many lesser known saints that had tonsures, so this cake may be a great way to remember them in a meal on their feast day if you have a particular devotion.

Happy Feast Day! St Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

Oh....I had to come back and add this cute photo! My dear daughter who helped me make this cake, wearing a Catholic Cuisine apron!

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  1. Oh goodness! I LOVE it!!!! My kids will get such a kick out of this! Thank you.

  2. That is great Anne and I LOVE the Apron! =)

  3. Too fun! Happy feast of St. Francis!

  4. Let's not forget St. Peter, he is the authority invoked for the Roman tonsure. Great post!

    Liturgy of the Hours

  5. I just recently found you, and I love your ideas. I'm thinking you must be in Britain, though, because I've never heard of caster sugar. What is that?

  6. Hi Tracy, no I'm in Australia, maybe we derived the term from them though! Castor sugar is white sugar that is highly processed, fairly fine and used in cooking when sugar is needed in a recipe.

  7. Can we use regular white sugar? And is vanilla essense the same as vanilla extract? What a cool idea :o) Love it!

  8. Oh yeah I get to make a cake for St. Francis!! Love the idea!!