Monday 2 November 2020


That wonderful musical "Fiddler on the Roof" begins with the main character, Tevye, explaining that the organisation of their simple life in the village is governed by one thing- tradition. Everyone has a role to play - year in year out, and it never changes, and that gives them stability. Much as I love the  film, and find myself at the end clutching a damp hankie because it reduces me to tears every time, I know that there are some ideas within it with which I disagree profoundly. But I acknowledge that sometimes there is security and comfort in tradition and habit.

We have no idea how Christmas will work out for our family this year. One daughter in Manchester, the other in London - and absolutely no possibility of all the carol services, nativity plays, care home visits etc which usually keep Bob and me so busy each December. 

But I find comfort in maintaining the Xmas traditions which are possible. Like making a Christmas Cake, and a pudding or two. I had a good time at the weekend weighing out the fruits and sugar and flour, beating eggs, zesting and juicing lemons, sprinkling in the spices. Standing alone in the kitchen this year, I remembered all the years when I did this with the girls, and Bob, each sharing hopes and dreams for the year ahead- each listing a gift we would like to give to a loved one, one we would like to receive ourselves, and a gift we would give the planet. 

Following my omission of spices from the Spiced Cake the other week, I organised myself with military precision this year. Using Jenny's scales, I weighed out all the ingredients first, and checked them off on the list. Using my big Mason Cash bowl, with a little help from the Kenwood, I mixed the cake, and put it into the prepared tin*. I put the bowls by the sink as they were emptied. I knew that if everything was in. I'd be left with a clear worktop. Around four hours later, the cake was done.

*wrapping the outside of the tin in the Guardian helps to keep the sides from drying out. Other newspapers are available.

Yes that is grated carrot. In WW2 many people used it to add moisture and sweetness when sugar was rationed. The plastic cup on the right holds cold tea. My traditional Baptist roots mean I never put booze in my Christmas Cake.

The Chef has made 35 Christmas cakes now - every year [except one] since 1995. The slo-cooker has proved the most efficient way to cook two puddings. I've done 'steaming one big one in a saucepan' and 'steaming lots of little ones in a fish kettle' and 'Martha Stewarts oven-method' - but this is clean, easy, energy efficient and doesn't steam everything up. 

I have no idea yet how I will ice and decorate this year's cake. Next year, I hope to make my cake in the halfterm break, in the kitchen at Cornerstones and have Rosie as my sous chef.

Have you made your cake yet?

How will you decorate it?


  1. I don't make Christmas cake but I love my slow cooker for puddings. It's also how I reheat my pudding because I can put the slow cooker somewhere out of the way and leave it to its own devices. And I think it makes a better job of reheating than the microwave does.

  2. I agree about reheating. The microwave easily overheats the pudding and dries it out. The slowcooker keeps it moist... And sits in the corner patiently keeping the pud ready.

  3. I don't make Christmas cake as I don't like it. Or Christmas puddings or Mince pies. It's the combination of dried fruit, sugar and wheat- not my thing at all! I do like the traditions though and wish I did like it. May be CBC, who does like it, should learn to make it.

  4. Your cake looks delicious, even without any icing on it! Maybe this will be the year of new traditions?

  5. I don't make a Christmas cake now. There is always far too much left, sadly. But I love the smells of Christmas baking.

  6. I don't make a Christmas cake per se but I do make a loaf stuffed with currants & raisin soaked in a mix of tea and Scotch! :-) Usually make a few as gifts but not quite sure what to do this year. I don't usually ice them but might do it this year and do a wee bit of decorating to give them as gifts to neighbours etc.
    My mom made a traditional "pudding" and dad always made a Dundee Cake - and that is something I'd love to try one year.

  7. It's a good idea to make sure all the ingredients have been used. This week I made a blackberry cake and decided to try an experiment by adding half a cup of sourdough starter to the dough. Then I let it sit for 45 mins and was delighted to see little bubbles popping up. It was half way through baking when I noticed the egg sitting in a corner.
    We had an edible sort of pie creation!


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