Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas cake

Today I cooked a Christmas cake. This was a very illogical thing to do, as there is really no one to eat it except myself, and eating one whole very large Christmas cake cannot be regarded as being good for you. My (foolish) children don't like Christmas cake. But I have always liked making Christmas cakes. In the days of yore I used to make three different recipes.

Last year, of course, I did not have an oven that worked, and there was no point in replacing it until it was clear whose oven it was going to be. Once that question was settled, I bought a new oven. It is not perfect and I have not tested it extensively.  Today was quite a test for it, and until the cake is sampled, it will not be clear whether all is well in my kitchen.

This cake requires a lot of work. Firstly, the ingredients have to be bought. These days it is quite difficult to buy fruit cake ingredients. It is said that 'young people' do not like fruit cake. I cannot think why not. The other irritating thing is that supermarkets these days have reduced the quantity in their packages - 200 grams instead of 250, etc. What profiteering bastards they are. You have to buy more or less than you need, hissing and fuming in consequence. I had to check the pantry to see which spices and essences I needed. It was necessary to buy a couple of spices - of course, once I got back home, I found I did indeed have some nutmeg, so now there is a nutmeg glut in my pantry. How much nutmeg does one use in any given year, and how long does it last? I wonder am I the only person who takes forever and an age to find things in the pantry?

Having bought all the ingredients yesterday, I set about preparing the fruit, so as to sprinkle them all with brandy and leave them to absorb it. Then today, once I was home from my class, I prepared the cake.

The recipe uses 12 egg yolks and 6 egg whites. It took quite some time to separate the eggs, and naturally a couple of eggs did not separate.

Sine Dr P died, I have used hardly any eggs, and indeed have had to discard some from time to time. This time I carefully checked to make sure that none of the eggs I used were stale. I now have 6 egg whites to use up, so naturally I have to make a pavlova. I will take it along to the knitting and crochet group morning tea this Friday, suitably decorated. You cannot just waste 6 egg whites.

Then I had to line the cake tin. This took longer than you would think. Three layers each of newspaper, brown paper and baking paper. All neatly cut out, placed in and around the cake tin, and stuck together. Next all the ingredients had to be combined.

This cake is very large. Once the fruit is added, the mixmaster has to be abandoned, and the mixture combined manually. I have a Huon pine spurtle, which is a great kitchen aid. Finally 6 egg whites have to be beaten until stiff, and folded in, and then it all must be placed in the cake tin. It is all elementary, my dear Watson, but it all takes a while.

This cake cooks very slowly - about five hours, and the aroma is quite heavenly.

As I finish for the day, the cake sits cooling on the kitchen bench. I think I will take half the cake to the family gathering in a couple of weeks, and the rest will have to be consumed very gradually. Too much cake is bad for the figure.

Given that for the past two years I have done practically no cookery, it does seem to me that to have embarked on this foolish marathon Christmas cake baking means that some emotional recovery is occurring.

Let it be so.



1 comment:

The Elephant's Child said...

Hooray for both emotional recovery and for Christmas cake. I hope that you enjoy both.
Some years ago we created a tradition of giving Christmas cakes to family and friends. We have created a monster. I made sixteen this year in varying sizes. Not only do we soak the fruit in rum and brandy before baking, we water the cake every second night after it has been baked. By Christmas it becomes the cake you have when you are having a drink,