The other night when my phone beeped with an alert, I checked it and found a Viber text from my elder (and only) sister. It contained just three words.
Soaked fruit in!
I smelled it first. The thick pulpy mush of chopped dry raisins and currants, cherries and more, being removed from a large jar where they’d been stewing in rum or brandy. – They stayed there for a month and were then folded into a creamy concoction, till the entire cake batter got poured into pans and baked.
When I arrive at my sister’s house (very, very soon) I’ll smell them for real then. I might also get to watch some of them being removed from the oven, and I’ll take a seat at her kitchen table, knowing she’ll need some space to set the cakes down on her counter in long rows to cool.
She’ll do that with her usual rapid speed, and with a loud warning to the rest of us to keep our hands off the cakes, because none of it is ready to eat till the marzipan topping isn’t added to every cake, and since that is not going to happen that very day, we’ll just have to control ourselves.
Besides, she’ll add zooming from oven to counter with her hands full. She can’t be bothered to cut us slices even if she wanted to. After all, the remaining mince pies aren’t all ready yet, and she has to see to those aside from everything else she has to do. She’s only managed to make forty five mince pies and now the cakes are going to have to wait!
Forty five, she’ll inform the room, pausing only to huff in the general direction of us lesser mortals, is not nearly enough mince pies for Christmas. And, time is running out! And, now would we all be kind enough to get out of her way and let her work in peace?
The kids will all stare at her. One or two might giggle. A brave soul might try and protest. He/She will receive a look which will make their tongue roll back in their mouth and start to burn with an acidic reaction. My mother will cluck in disapproval at my sister. My sister’s husband will immediately engage my mum in some “very important” discussion. My husband will make faces at the kids and one more might giggle.
A few minutes later while the clucking, talking, face making and giggling people are all gaping at me in shock, I will be happily biting into a thick wedge of richly warm Christmas fruit cake, which I’ll wash down with some nice hot cider, prop my feet up on the kitchen chair, and casually ask my sister if she needs some help.
She will throw me a look which very, very loosely says “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“No.” She’ll snap, whizzing back and forth so fast, I’ll be forced to look away lest I get dizzy and drop my delish cake slice.
“I can manage.” She’ll say, storming away. “How’s the cake? Do you want more? Here, I’ll cut you another slice. Who else wants cake? You lot may as well eat it now that it’s cut. Kids? Mum? Who wants a mincepie? There are plenty.”
If you think there is no gloating smile on my face at that moment, you’d be wrong.
There always is.
Because, I always get the cake.
I’m not really a big cake fan. In fact, I barely have a sweet tooth (or a sweet disposition really. Coincidence? Hmm) but not all Christmas cakes are sweet, or so sweet they make people groan orgasmically at the first bite.
Ohhh Ohhh this is sooooo goood! More! Gimme morrrre!!! Ahhhh! Mmmmm! That’s it baby! Ohhh yes! Mmmm!
Seriously, orgasmic sounds I always wish I could record and playback for a laugh.
She bakes the best Christmas cakes, my sister. So much so, it’s one of those rare times I actually enjoy sinking my teeth into sugary goodness. It’s why I got her to bake my wedding cake. And, she did. Then she flew in with boxes of it. I don’t want to imagine what those poor customs officials had to go through when they tried to peer into the sealed tupperware boxes at the airport.
I’m the youngest in the family and over indulged, what can I say?
And, I like to tell people my wedding cake was custom made and especially flown in for me. 😉
The best ones she does are traditional cakes loaded with dry fruit and topped with the richness of marzipan.
She also makes them with no alcohol. Also, seriously heaven!
I will bring some back with me, so if you live in Karachi and want a slice, let me know.
There are tons of varieties of cakes baked during the Christmas season everywhere. The traditional Goan Baath cake is also one of my favourites. It’s made of semolina and coconut and has a light, fluffy texture which usually melts in one’s mouth if made right.
I hoard that particular cake and enjoy a slice or two with a cup of coffee late on winter nights.
Another special one for me is the traditional Sri Lankan cake made around Christmas, very simply known as Love Cake. I’m going to let Chani tell you all about it if she does a post on traditional sweets from SL, but trust me guys, it’s one hell of a delicious cake and worthy of its name.
And, I will always be thankful I grew up with many a Sri Lankan family in my neighbourhood and got to stuff my face with plenty of Love Cake during Christmas time.
Adding cake to the table today seemed like a good idea, because its one of the stronger traditions associated with the season of Christmas and something most people love.
I trust you’ll ignore how this post just rambled on and quite non-nonsensically. But, short on time and now I must get back to packing.
Enjoy the cakes!
P.S. I’m enjoying all the warm and wonderful comments on the Christmas posts. Thank you for sharing your memories and experiences with us. It’s really adding such a festive touch to the blog, and I’m loving all of it.