Cake mixing event heralds festive season

CHRISTMAS PREPARATIONS

The clock strikes 1.30 and the guests enjoying brunch, at Epicentre, Gurgaon, rush through their meal to prepare for the fun-filled exercise that marks the advent of the Christmas season.

Pulling on gloves and donning caps and aprons, they happy guests plunge their hands into a mishmash of dry fruits, peels and liquor.

While on a normal day, this would have been considered weird, on the occasion of the ‘Cake Mixing Ceremony’, their ‘involvement’ was welcomed by the restaurant.

With barely a few weeks left for Christmas, the pastry chefs in the Capital have been busy organising ‘traditional cake mixing ceremony’ for their guests. “About 15-20 days before the public ceremony, we mature small samples of dry fruits and alcohol to ensure that these will make for a good batter for the Christmas cake,” says chef Pawan Uppal, pastry chef at Epicentre.    

Since the festival of Christmas has gained popularity in the Indian sub-continent, the traditions attached with it have sought attention of people too. Following the West, chefs assemble a wide range of ingredients - “prunes, apricots, glazed cherries, orange peel, tutti frutti, almonds, cashewnuts, golden raisins and black sultanas,” lists chef Amit Pratap Singh, pastry chef, Kempinski Ambience Hotel.  

He adds that in order to make a perfect mixture, they even inform the guests that these “fruits have to be mashed properly so that their pulp ferments with the liquor in proper proportion, so that the aroma and flavour of the cakes that will be baked later is perfect. In the 100 kg mixture that we prepared, we used 20 bottles of rum, 15 brandy, five whiskey, five bottles of red and white wine each and three -four bottles of vodka,” adds chef Singh.

He informs that some “even like to add champagne” but in the original recipe there isn’t any.

It is known that the Greeks and the Romans used in cake mixing what is naturally and locally available. Infact, this tradition of cake mixing is relatively new. In old times, people ate porridge on Christmas Eve, to line their stomachs after a day of fasting. The
intrusion of rich ingredients such as dried fruits, spices and honey in their simple porridge made it plum porridge which eventually turned into Christmas pudding later.

In the 16th century, oatmeal was replaced in the original recipe with butter, wheat flour and eggs which resulted in the innovation of the plum cake. The spices in its batter represented the exotic eastern spices brought by the Wise Men and thus the cake came to be known as what we relish today as the ‘Christmas cake’. Baked till slightly dark in colour, covered with royal icing and baubles, and served with brandy butter sauce, the mere thought of these cakes makes the mouth water!

It is certainly difficult to wait till the fruits soak in the liquor and get set for baking. But is it really necessary to wait till Christmas? Apparently so...for good luck!

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