So this year I decided, after my success last year with St Delia’s (hallowed be her baking) Cake in a Box, to make a Christmas cake from scratch, especially after my in laws confirmed they would be at ours for the holidays.
So I grabbed my St Delia’s (hallowed be her baking) Christmas Book and bought the fruit and the peel and the parchment and the brandy.
Yesterday, as instructed, I measured and mixed the fruit and peel with the brandy.
Today, I made the cake. Adam is on half term holiday but decided he didn’t want to help. He’s very wise, my son.
The first mistake happened when I was sifting the dry ingredients. I didn’t realize I wasn’t quite over the bowl and some of the flour etc went on the counter. So I scooped it back in and went on my merry way. (Get it? Merry? Christmas? Never mind…)
Next up it was time to cream the butter and sugar. So I put them into another bowl and stuck my electric hand whisk into it. Butter starts to fly as it was still too hard.
So I scooped up what I could and moved it to my food processor, which has a stronger motor. But not strong enough as I discovered when one of the whisk blades snapped right off. Probably not the motor’s fault, on reflection.
So I scraped it back into the original bowl and dropped some on the floor. Now, my counters are clean. I clean them regularly during the day and I always wipe them down with soap and water before I begin to cook, so scooping spilled flour back into the bowl was no great hazard. My floor, however, needs a wash. So I swept up the butter and sugar and hoped it wasn’t as much as it looked like as I threw it in the bin.
And then I set to work creaming by hand. Which hurts as my arthritis is quite bad in my wrists today. Once it was softer, I went back to the electric hand whisk to finish the job.
Here I need to stop and explain something. I was taught to cook, more or less, by my Jewish mother. In Judaism, if you find a blood spot inside an egg, the egg cannot be eaten, which is why each egg is cracked individually into one bowl before being added to other eggs or ingredients.
Yes, I was making a Christmas cake and I don’t practice Judaism anyway and have never thrown out an egg with a blood spot in it, but I still crack my eggs into a bowl or glass on their own before adding them. Indoctrination is hard to shake…
Anyway, the next thing to go wrong was when I was cracking my eggs. I tend to use a small glass for this only today I used a really small glass for this for some unknown reason and when I cracked one of the eggs the shell slipped out of my hand and half of it landed in the glass with the egg. And I couldn’t get it out.
So I pour the egg though my fingers and am praying I caught all of the shell…maybe people will think it’s a very skinny almond if I didn’t?
So. The eggs were added. Next problem…
Recipe says to fold dry into wet. Only I used the wrong bowls. I used the huge bowl for the dry and the medium bowl for the wet. There was no way the wet plus all that fruit (see above) was going in that bowl. So I folded the wet into the dry and prayed that St Delia (hallowed be her baking) would forgive me.
After that things went a bit more smoothly. Everything incorporated well and looked the same as it had last year when I had St Delia’s (hallowed be her baking) measurements instead of my own.
Then came the parchment paper.
It is a fact that parchment paper hates me. If I tell it to fold crisply, it flops. If I try to cut it to size, it wiggles and I miss. So it probably took me 30 minutes to get the damn cake tin lined. And I was so frustrated I almost didn’t line my tin, just to see what would happen. But I had come so far…
But I did it. And it’s in the oven. For those 4.5 hours. With Adam asking me every 10 minutes “Where’s the cake?”
Which he will never be allowed to eat due to the brandy.
If for some reason I ever again say “I think I’ll make a Christmas Cake this year.” Simon has been instructed to tell me to go lie down until the urge goes away.
But I’m still thinking about making my own Christmas pudding…