The nip in the air is giving way to temperature drops and the chill setting in. Tinkling bells and Christmas aren’t too far away either. The festival of merriment is incomplete without the traditional Christmas cake. An English tradition which kicked off as plum porridge laid the foundation of Christmas cakes. This porridge was eaten to break the fast on Christmas eve. Gradually, dried fruit, spices and honey were added to the porridge, which eventually evolved into a Christmas pudding. During the 16th century, oatmeal was taken out from the maiden recipe and instead butter, eggs and wheat flour were added to it. These ingredients helped hold the mixture together in what resulted in a boiled plum cake. Wealthier families with their own ovens started making fruit cakes with marzipan, an almond sugar paste, for Easter.
To celebrate the Christmas, they make similar cakes but with seasonal dried fruit and spices. The eventful tradition of cake-mixing ceremony was initiated long back in the 17th century in Europe. It took place in the harvest season. During that time, different types of fruits and nuts are harvested and used in the making of the traditional Christmas plum cake. Few wise men brought the exotic spices from the east for the cake, which was later known as “Christmas cake”. Even today, the preparations for the Christmas cake begin with mixing some ingredients of the cake much in advance, almost two months prior to Christmas. A similar ceremony was recently held at Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar in New Delhi.
Here is a slideshow of the mirth…
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A whole lot of ingredients – fresh and dry fruits, nuts, liquors, fruit juices and spices go into the cake.
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The steps involved in the process begins from sorting and chopping of different fruits, which then are put in a deep and large container.
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This fruit and dry fruit mixture is then combined with the liquids – that is, liquor and fruit juice.
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Finally, spices such as lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon powder, cloves powder, cardamom powder etc., are combined well into the fruit liquor mixture and the result is kept in an airtight container to combine with the cake batter later.
Some other pointers for a TRUE DIVINE PLUM CAKE (According to Chef Vikas Pant, Executive Chef, Radisson Blu, Pashchim Vihar) :
– Wash all fruits like raisins, blackcurrant, etc. before soaking.
– All Fruits should be seedless.
– Use big containers like a trolley for keeping soaked fruits in a better manner.
– Gently roast the nuts to bring out the oil. Let it cool and then chop them roughly. Further, mix the same with cake batter just before filling the cake pans and putting them into the oven.
Images and text: Gursimran Singh