Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Cake preparations - and Milestones

I have been tardy this year in soaking the dry fruits for the cake I make for Christmas every year. I usually try to do it mid-November, or atleast by the 25th, but this year we seemed to have a million things to do on the weekends this month.
Started with our Diwali celebration at the beginning of November, in Mumbai with family, then there was a breakfast picnic like this one, outdoor parties before it becomes too cold, dance and musical performances -The Manganiyar Seduction (an international act of Rajasthani folk musicians performing in 36 boxes stacked one on top of the other in 4 rows) was particularly spectacular!  - a children's literature festival called Bookaroo which has managed to reach its third year with much support from enthusiastic parents and children and the driving force of Swati Roy and Sanjay Roy who own Eureka - the children's bookstore.


In December, the 3-day Jazz Utsav was this weekend - we went on Friday, which was the opening day, and were treated to some scintillating performances - especially the one by Ranjit Barot and Talvin Singhs' bands.
The Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) also began this weekend - it has a smorgasbord of events happening till the 12th December including some excellent classical dance performances and theatre. The first ever exhibition of Anish Kapoor in India - (Anish Kapoor is a celebrated contemporary sculptor), opened this week at the newly refurbished National Gallery of Modern Art - and while I don't pretend to understand contemporary art and installations, I am definitely not going to miss an opportunity to broaden my horizons. As I tell my daughter - its OK to not like something after you have tried it, but you should atleast try everything once.
Then there is the Old World Theatre Festival at Habitat Centre, Christmas fairs organised by the various embassies, the Christmas decorations inside hotels and malls to gawk at....November to February is such a nice time to do things in Delhi - its what makes the rest of the year bearable!

These are some of the pics from the German Christmas Fair yesterday - my daughter and I had a nice time picking through the stalls and looking at the christmas stuff all over. There was a stall by the Swiss German Bakery where I picked up some wonderful baguette and sour dough bread as well as the aromatic Lebkuchen - a traditional Christmas cookie/cake which is quite strongly spiced with cinnamon and cloves. The reason I call it cookie/cake, it though it is a cake, it is not soft, melt-in-the-mouth, but quite crumbly in texture with a nice crust. I was happy with my glass of German beer, a quiche and some bratwurst (which was quite pungent I must say) while K devoured a lovely chocolate croissant. 

Anyway, suffice to say that I have enough excuses to have postponed the soaking this long. But I got up early this morning and managed to soak all the dry fruits and nuts. They will sit there for the next two weeks till I bake the cake on the 22nd or 23rd December - the cake tastes better later, as the flavours have time to meld.

'Tis the season to be jolly and all that - well, Peppermill has turned 3 - yes, can't believe it, but my first post was in November 2007. Thank you everyone who reads this blog, for all your encouragement and support and for reaching out to me - I have received much more than I can give, and for that I am thankful.


Don't need an excuse to celebrate though, so if you have always thought of baking a fruit cake, now's the time to start! Its a small list of ingredients and all readily available. For those who don't want to steep the fruits in alcohol, just use orange juice. Also, there are a lot of recipes which recommend "feeding" the cake with alcohol, after its baked (some days before Christmas) till its finally eaten. I don't - I also don't cover it with marzipan icing which is another traditional thing to do. I like my cake slices just as they are - filled with fruit, soft and dense and with that lovely dark colour and rich smell.


These are the ingredients I soak

Mixed Dry Fruit chopped - 350 gms (choose from currants,sultanas,raisins, dates, fig, apricot)

I use equal quantities of currants,raisins, dates,apricots and plums (dried)
The dry fruits are soaked 3-4 weeks in advance in about 1/4 cup of dark rum (brandy can also be used)

For the complete recipe and the earlier post- look here

Or you can also try Chocolate Gingerbread Men or White Chocolate, Cherry and Oatmeal Cookies

15 comments:

sra said...

Congrats, Miri, and may there be many, many more peppery posts!

Cilantro said...

Congrats on turning 3!
I make the Christmas cake every year too but not this year, just lazy I guess. looks like you have been very busy. Hope to see your cake soon!

Cham said...

Congrats on ur milestone! Always I had a joy to read all ur posts! Wish u many more years of happy Blogging!
Seems u enjoyed the German stall!

Arch said...

Wow !! thats an eventful month you've had...You seem to be enjoying Delhi now...Congratulations on your 3 years !! You've truly been an inspiration ! I think I will bake a Christmas cake this year ! Will follow up on your link...

indosungod said...

Congratulations Miri. You have inspired me to try making fruit cake. I like them and I am not sure why they get such a bad rap here.

Rajani said...

oh this is great! congratulations on completing 3 blog years i know its tough to keep going and staying interesting and interested... u are a thoroughbred foodie! love the post on christmas cele... miss delhi. fantastic cake! will make one too but i think i am too late for the presoaking with alcohol bit... and can kids eat things with alc in it??

Srivalli said...

Congrats Miri, wishing for many more years to come!

Miri said...

Thanks everyone for your wishes! :)

Rajani - Thanks!
I have eaten a lot of home made Xmas cakes in my Goan and Anglo Indian friend's homes, when I was growing up so I don't fret about feeding my li'l one either (of course we were also being liberally dosed with Benadryl by our parents, but thats another story)
Also, she will anyway eat smaller portions than us, and over 2 weeks, not all at once.

The total alcohol content for the two cakes this bakes, is about 1/4 cup - you hardly know it's there.

Sayantani said...

Congrats Miri. love to read all your posts.
I soaked a huge batch of dry fruits in red wine last year.half of that would be used this year.

Bong Mom said...

Congrats Miri on the 3. Wishing many many more.

Your winter sounds so very happening.Heard about the Manganiyar seduction last week on the public radio. Didn't understand the box thingy. Now I know.

ns said...

superb Raji! i just love your blog and have tried out so many things from your recipe index...wish i was in Delhi too...

Anita said...

Cakes and birthdays were made for each other! Happy birthday Miri!
About the alcohol in the cake, I am sure most of it cooks off...

I am planning to go and see the Anish Kapoor exhibition too (have already mentioned it to Manisha as well!) - wouldn't miss a chance to see his fabulous metal sculptures!

Pony said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! Time really does fly! I don't know where you find the time to do everything you do. Your schedule would leave me a limp rag!

Miri said...

Thanks Pony! :) and yes, sometimes I *am* a limp rag - like I just refused to do my "duties" this weekend and instead relaxed at a friend's place.

Anita - we should do that together then...would love to have the company of a creative person who might actually understand his art!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Moist, rich and decadent Christmas cake. Lovely to have come here.