This recipe for Lamb’s Wool is similar to a traditional (and much older and simpler) spiced ale Lambswool Recipe. This gentler and creamier recipe uses cider (or ale) baked apples, eggs, cream, ground almonds and winter-spices to make a wonderfully smooth and invigorating drink for the New-Year and Twelfth-Night. It tastes equally good served warm, or after being made and cooled, (chilled in the fridge) it is frothed up with a whisk and drunk cold.
This particular frothy and creamy drink, made with cider, is excellent in winter, particularly for Christmas or New-Year (or indeed wassailing on 12th Night). It is very mild, with a subtle taste of apples and cream, and drunk warm it would compliment being served with a cold Egg Nog, while cooled and chilled it would replace the Egg Nog. If you are making the Lamb’s Wool to drink outside (perhaps wassailing) then serve it warm, if you intend to serve it inside we recommend serving it chilled.
This modern (adapted) recipe is inspired by combining information from two different recipes for ‘Lamb’s Wool’ or ‘Wassail’, the first is from Robert May, from 1664 A.D., for his drink called ‘Wassel’, the second is from an unattributed 1633 source for ‘Lamb’s Wool’.
Lamb’s Wool ‘Wassel’ Recipe
For this recipe cider is preferred to ale, (recommended) but a traditional ale can also be used.
- 1 litre of cider (or real ale)
- 600ml double (heavy) cream
- 50g ground almonds
- 4 small cooking apples, cored (Bramley apples)
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (more for a garnish)
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 150g brown sugar (demerara)
- optional: toasted flaked almonds for a garnish
Preheat the oven 120C
Prepare the apples in advance: time it so they are ready when you want to put them into the lambswool to serve.
Core the 4 apples fully, getting rid of the pips. Lightly grease the baking tray. Place the apples on the baking tray about 6cm (2 inches) apart – they will swell up a little. Bake the apples at 120C for about an hour or so – so they become soft and pulpy and the skins are easy to pull off.
Make the Lamb’s Wool:
In a large and tall (thick bottomed) saucepan add the sugar, and cover the sugar with a small amount of cider – heat gently and stir continuously until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the ground ginger, grated nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon sticks – stir, turn the heat up, and bring the syrup to just under the boil for a couple of minutes.
After two minutes turn down the heat and return the pan to a gentle simmer again, then slowly add in all the rest of the cider, stirring it slowly into the syrup. Leave it on a gentle heat to warm through.
In a bowl beat together the egg yolks and then slowly stir in the cream.
Once the cider has been gently warmed through pour in the cream and egg yolks and stir it in. The Lamb’s Wool will now lighten in colour, to a creamy white, heat through for another 2 minutes gently, stirring continuously, keep the pan on a gentle heat, making sure the egg yolks and cream do not scramble or split. Then turn off the heat and leave while you get the apples ready.
Take the baked apples out of the oven to cool slightly for 10 minutes – they should now be soft and pulpy.
Break open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin. Then take a fork and mash them up, while they are still warm, into a smooth purée. Add the ground almonds to the apple purée and mix in thoroughly.
Strain the warmed Lamb’s Wool mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean bowl or jug, removing all the whole spices and any lumps which you can discard. Then quickly swill out the saucepan with cold clean water. Return the clean saucepan to the stove and pour back in the strained Lamb’s Wool, then heat to a gentle simmer once more.
Once the lambs wool is warmed through add in the apple and ground almond purée into the saucepan, whisking it briskly into a frothy drink. Continue to gently warm everything through until it is ready to drink – taste and add in more sugar if needed.
Recommended tip: if you have used a tall saucepan, with plenty of space, you can carefully use a hand (stick) blender to blitz and froth everything up, or put the drink through a blender, a small amount at a time. This makes a really creamy, frothy and smooth drink, perfect for parties.
Then Either 1. Drink Warm – Ladle the Lamb’s Wool into heat-proof mugs or glasses and grate over a little nutmeg. Drink warm.
Or 2. Drink Chilled – Let the Lamb’s Wool cool in the saucepan, then cover with cling film, and chill in the fridge for 4 or 5 hours, (even overnight). When you want to serve it cold take it out of the fridge and whisk the drink to froth it up and break up any lumps which formed, pour into a serving jug, grate over a little nutmeg. Drink cold.
Optional: break over the top of the drinks some toasted flaked almonds. To go wassailing read this post: The Practice Of Wassailing.
To make a Wassel.
From Robert May, in ‘The Accomplisht Cook’, Published 1664
Take muskedine [red wine] or ale, and set it on the fire to warm, then boil a quart of cream and two or three whole cloves, then have the yolks of three or four eggs dissolved with a little cream; the cream being well boiled with the spices, put in the eggs and stir them well together, then have sops or sippets of fine manchet or french bread, put them in a bason, and pour in the warm wine, with some sugar and thick cream on that; stick it with blanched almonds and cast on cinamon, ginger, and sugar, or wafers, sugar plate, or comfits.
Lambs Wool Recipe From 1633
Boil three pints of ale; beat six eggs, the whites and yolks together; set both to the fire in a pewter pot; add roasted apples, sugar, beaten nutmegs, cloves, and ginger; and, being well brewed, drink it while hot.