The White Christmas of 2009….
Heavy snow, sliding on ice, evenings by the fire and treats so nice
This was my very first Christmas in London and I was going to be spending it with my great-aunts at their home (where I was living at the time) and I wanted to make it super special. So, with great gastro gusto and the onset of autumn I began poring over the pages of her recipe books for Christmas Cake and Mince Pie recipes. It wasn’t long before I had soaked my fruits, cooked the mince, readied the pastry cut outs for the tarts and frozen them. Oh, and of course, most important, baked the cakes a few weeks later (once they were nice and drunk)! Albeit not without the assistance of my great-aunt Aunty Vera, upon whom I thrust the responsibility of removing the cakes from the oven when the timer went off, as I rushed out the door to make my way to Selfridge’s London where I was temping over Christmas. I had been deputed to the Christmas Shop where a red apron saying ‘Bah Humbug’ was part of our uniform (as far as uniform goes, any colour goes at Selfridge’s as long as it’s black 😉 ! ) and helping customers pick out sparkling Christmas things for their home and tree was part of the job – ah, the joys of arriving home all glittery after handling Christmas decorations!).
The recipe called for two cakes but after I had and soaked the cakes in a lot of red wine for several days I decided to freeze one for later/post Christmas (and what a treat it was in February. The best part was we didn’t have to wait for it to thaw out because it hadn’t frozen hard because of how heavily doused in wine it was). 2 days before Christmas I managed to squeeze in some treat preparation time (I was working 7 days a week at the time between my temp job and fashion journalism internship) to get creative with fondant and marzipan and soon I had my first finished Christmas Cake! I was left with a fair bit of marzipan though so in an attempt to finish this (and the leftover glacé cherries) I came up with the idea of the cherry snowballs which I talked about in my earlier post titled Christmas Treats.
I would have loved to have done a gingerbread house but being short of time I came up with the idea of star shaped ginger cookies instead (read Christmas Treats to find out more). Christmas cake – check. Gingerbread (of sorts) – check. Mince pies – check.
I had prepared the pastry cut outs for the mince pies ahead of time and frozen them and my mince was ready so in under 3 hours I had two trays of mince pies ready to please the palate. Of course, once again there was a question of what do with the leftover pastry that was frozen and now thawed to be used for something (what exactly that something was I did not know)? ‘Waste no want not’ having been ingrained in my head by my mother I had to find a use for the leftover pastry and sure enough I did. I cut out flat rounds and baked them to use as canapé bases. I then topped them with salmon or ox tongue and voila! Christmas savoury treats were now on the menu for Christmas tea.
My first attempt at Christmas Cake – and what a boozy cake it was!
Glistening white carpets of snow on the ground,
Christmas lights and cheer all around,
Slippery platforms at every tube station,
People stepping with such trepidation,
Wine by the fireplace and the Ballet on telly,
Scrabble and treats and each of us merry 😉