I come from a long line of farming and country stock which has included some notable cooks, (and it has to be said), some forgettable ones! The one thing they all have in common is that Figgy pudding doesn’t figure in their culinary repertoire!
I, being a staunch traditionalist, am carrying on this practice. Like the rest of the formidable women in my family, some of which rose to the higher echelons of the W.I. I see no need to suffer a dish of mashed figs and bread when we have the expertise of hatchet-faced Delia and the like to draw upon which is why I decided, a couple of years ago, to give her Christmas cake recipe a whirl.
Personally I relish Christmas cake with as much enthusiasm as I do Figgy pudding, but there is the ancestral honour to up hold. I cannot let the side down when the extended family gathers around the table over Christmas and casts a critical eye over my efforts.
Delia’s recipe seemed like a fail safe dream, moist, stuffed with fruit and best of all liberally laced with brandy.
Slight problem re the brandy. Neither Nearest and Dearest or me drink the stuff, though almost everything else seems to go down our necks without too much trouble! Although I am a traditionalist, I am also totally disorganised when it comes to cooking which is why I am a fantastic improviser. Whiskey we have a plenty so whiskey it is.
Soak fruit over night, says Delia in three table spoons of the stuff. Three table spoons? She can’t be serious! That’s no more than a gnats eyeful! Searching through the pantry I found we had an unopened litre bottle so four or five good sloshes went in with a nip or three for me!
Next day, take two paracetamol, shout at N & D for jangling change in his pocket and have to be forcibly restrained from killing No. 2 son who has eaten more than half the soaked fruit mixture consisting of raisins, currents, sultanas and cherries amounting to over 3 lb of fruit.
Replace fruit which now consists mainly of currents since we are out of raisons, cherries and sultanas and more sloshes of whiskey. Do NOT have a nip or three and wonder if I should add a drop of water to the bottle as we are well into the last third.
Have heated argument with N & D who seems to have developed psychic powers. He is convinced I am going to burn the thing and proceeds to lecture me on the importance of correct oven temperature, proper preparation of the tin with protective wrapping and the necessity of staying around while it is cooking.
I retaliate by reminding him that his one and only attempt at festive baking, (done in the microwave), produced something resembling furnace clinker. He had the temerity to say it was my fault for not relaying the instructions properly!
Four hours later, cake emerges done to perfection. For the first time I allow myself to think that my faint hope of becoming the queen of the Kendrick cake makers may well become reality this year!
Silly woman! What is that saying about pride before a fall or rather thieving dogs and Christmas cakes? By the time No. 3 son’s dog was discovered, she had eaten half the cake and the kitchen was covered in fragmented tin foil!
There was also the little matter of N & D’s single malt, but as this is almost the festive season, we won’t go there!
Not one to be deterred by a little set back such as a half eaten Christmas cake, I set too and made another which has to be the most expensive cake ever to grace our festive table!