Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Food takes the centrestage in any festivity. Celebrations begin and end around the dining table.

Feasting and banqueting play a pivotal role in ringing in the warmth and joy of festivals and special occasions. Naturally then, this time of the year food is always on my mind. 

From bakes to brews there is much that one can take fancy to during the Christmas season.

And as for me, the one special dish that enhances the aromas in the kitchen, kicks in the spirit of the season, beacons the festive mood of the month and leaves me absorbed in the pleasure of baking is the Christmas Fruit Cake.

Baking the Christmas cake at home is very special for me as it is both nostalgic and reminiscent of the many Christmas seasons of my childhood when the waft of the plum cake baking in the kitchen would fill the rest of the house.

My siblings and I would take turns in beating the eggs and in creaming the butter and sugar.

Earlier, the cleaning and soaking of the dry fruits in rum would have kept us absorbed for a whole week as the sultans and raisins needed to be deseeded and chopped.  When the final batter went into the oven, the joy of a work done together as a family was perhaps the most cherished and fulfilling experience.

Such childhood experiences often have a way of getting reinforced into adulthood. When I started my own family then, Christmas could not be complete without baking the Christmas cake at home. Thus started my love affair with baking the Christmas cake at home every Christmas season for family and guests and to offer to friends and neighbours during Christmas time.  

Today many conveniences make the procedure much simpler than what it was back then in my childhood. Pre-cleaned and neatly packed dry fruits have removed the chore of deseeding and cleaning them.

The quality of the modern day ovens with built in temperature control for even banking adds perfection to the final browning of the cake.

Baking thus made easy, anyone can now just turn on their ovens, follow the procedure and voila! You can have your own yummy and aromatic fruit cake in your home to ring in the Christmas spirit and cheer!

Christmas Fruit Cake
Ingredients
n Maida – 1 cup
n Butter – 1 cup
n Sugar – 1 cup (powdered)
n Eggs – 4
n Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
n Baking Powder – 1 tsp
n Caramel – 2 tbsp
n Mixed spices powdered – ½ tsp (cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon)
n Soaked (in rum) dry fruits – 2 cups (cashews, sultans, raisins, tutti-frutti, fruit peels)

Method
n Cream the butter and
sugar together
n Separate the egg white from the yolk and beat separately till frothy
n Mix the two together
n Add caramel and vanilla essence and mix well
n Sieve the maida, baking powder and spice mixture together
n Combine it to the wet mixture until homogeneous
n Finally add the mixed dry fruits and blend together
n Grease a baking tin and bake at 180 degree centigrade in a preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes
 

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