Ingredients for Christmas Plum Cakesby Opinion Express November 30, 2018 0 comments
Ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and wine go into making plum cakes for Christmas.
It’s that time of the year when the holiday cheer shoos away the dull winter and catches all of us in its yarn. And, in a country like ours where every festival is celebrated with fervour — religious and otherwise — Christmas is a staple that everyone looks forward to for the bakes and confectionaries associated with it.
When you smell the warm aromas of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and see the lusciously soaked blackcurrants, sultanas, figs and prunes, the immediate thought is of Christmas. Also for the bakers, the cake mixing ceremony signifies the start of the busiest period of the entire year.
The cake puts the fun in fundamental Christmas traditions but making it is no easy feat. Preparations begin a month in advance since this is no home-baked cake, muffin or pastry.
The ceremony dates back to 17th century Europe and marks the arrival of the harvest season. During this time, lot of fruits and nuts are harvested and used in the making of the traditional plum cake, which is saved till the next harvest with the hope that it would bring yet another fruitful year.
To mark the birth of Jesus Christ, swanky hotels organise cake mixing ceremonies to spread the warmth of the festive season. With every hotel and restaurant changing with the times, Jaypee Vasant Continental (JVC) and The Imperial also organised their annual Christmas cake-mixing ceremony.
The fine mix of dry fruits like sultanas, cherries, cashew nuts, raisins, black currants, figs, candied orange peel, cranberry, and apricots were mixed with wine and liquor so that the ingredients can develop an aroma and taste.
This ceremony is poles apart from baking a cake, which happens much after the mix is prepared. The ingredients are allowed to marinate in the juices and beverages for 40 days before starting with the baking, much like the process of making pickles where ingredients are mixed with spices for weeks and months before considering it ready for consumption. Sugar, liquor and fruit juices help preserve the cake and make for a good energy bite.
“Cake mixing ceremony is a ritual religiously followed the world over and it is said to be a harbinger of good tidings and happiness. The ceremony marks the advent of the festive season and through this we look forward to spreading the warmth of this season of merry making. This year, we are blessed to have kids from a NGO with us to give them the experience of special family traditions across the world. The traditional Christmas cake is an integral part of the celebrations. Preparations are on full swing cross all hotels for a grand celebration this year with exclusive menus and unique decor being curated specially for Christmas,” said Dilawar Singh Nindra, GM of JVC.
The event is as much a congregation of joy as a showcase of how the traditional plum cake it made, said executive chef, Avinash Jha. “It was really fun having the kids this time with us. They were very enthusiastic about taking part in the mixing ceremony as they were the ones who put the ingredients together,” said Jha.
At The Imperial, New Delhi, executive chef Prem Kumar Pogakula and pastry chef Vivek Chauhan tossed up varieties of candied fruits, peels, assorted nuts, juices and soaked them in all-important spirits like cognac, rum and Grand Marnier. These were then blended for an exotic dough to mature beautifully in time for Christmas and to be churned out as plum cakes, puddings and Stollen.
Chef Prem said, “The mix of exotic ingredients gets soaked in liquor for at least a month. The more the ingredients are marinated in a vat of spirits, the better the taste. It is prepared in a distinct way with mounds and mounds of brown dates, black raisins, red cherries, cashew nuts, topped with powdered cloves, cardamom, ginger peel, lemon peel, orange peel, dry figs, walnuts, apricots, prunes, dry black currants, pistachios, almonds, pepper and other exotic spices. All are mixed with 50 litres of liquor and fatten up with infusion. Then our chefs will combine flour with mixture for the dough to be baked to perfection for 1.5 tonne of cakes which are richer, yummier and divine in taste.”
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer