When I was younger, she'd do three Christmas cakes: one for the day, one for dad's birthday in January and one for a friend of the family. Now, she's narrowed it down to one and she'll perhaps do a Dundee cake for dad's birthday or I do a sponge with his favourite thing ever:
In short, we're spoiled.
The events I'm about to tell you about actually took place about a month ago, during half term (mid term) and the week after, but I'd heard so many people complain about "Christmas coming too early" (if there is such thing) that I decided to wait and post them in December. However, though my Christmas officially started last night, preparations started back then. This wasn't due to "corporate greed" or "the conformity of modern such-and-such", but because much like any teenage boy, it takes a good Christmas cake a very long time to mature...
My mum makes two puddings, one to be eaten on the day and one for sometime during the year, usually Easter. It's always such a magical moment when we finish our Christmas dinner and the pudding is brought out. All the lights are turned off, brandy is poured on the pudding and its set alight. We all watch the blue flames dance for a fleeting instant before the alcohol burns up and it's time to dig in, with cream or even milk on top.
The pudding mix is made, Delia's recipe of course, is placed in two pyrex basins, wrapped in greaseproof paper and an old tea towel and string, and must be steamed for a total of eight hours. This is done in a saucepan on top of an upside down saucer. Mum does two the day she makes it, four at some other point, and two on the day it's eaten.
|(This ancient tea towel may have a Sainsbury's label, but others are available from all good retailers... sorry, I've gone all BBC...)|
|The pudding after two hours in the pot...|
|Set up the dining table to work on, with the most beautiful view... Christmas was in the air already!|
|...from this ancient Good Housekeeping book.|
|Got all my ingredients together...|
|(But look at the glacé cherries before I cut them... they're like little jewels!)|
|The smell of lemon zest, freshly-grated nutmeg and cinnamon always reminds me of Christmas|
|Wet ingredients have gone in....|
|Every member of the family must stir the cake for luck...|
|And now to put my feet up... (Tea for me, brandy for cake...)|
And you can see the finished cake in a later post!
Happy advent, boys and girls!