Cake walk

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SummaryChefs roll up their sleeves for the annual cake-mixing ceremony across the city.

Whoever said too many cooks spoil the broth had clearly never seen a traditional Christmas cake-mixing ceremony. What began in the 17th century as a family celebration of the harvest season has, over the years, become one of the biggest social activities in the festival calendar.

The scene at Daily Treats coffee shop at The Westin was buzzing on Sunday, as chefs and guests prepared for the annual cake-mixing ceremony. Long rectangular mixing basins were laid out in the room like battle trenches, while guests armoured themselves in gloves, aprons and toques. The air was full of the sounds of laughter and conversation, mixing with the heady aroma of candied fruits and nuts and a robust whiff of whisky and dark rum.

When the tradition first began in the UK, it was to celebrate the harvest and usher in good luck for the family. Now, even though it has become a community event a way to mark the approach of Christmas cheer, says Executive Chef Anurudh Khanna. About 90 kg of fruits and nuts such as walnuts, pecan, sultanas, candied orange and lemon peel were mixed with spices such as star anise, cinnamon and cardamom, he adds.

But perhaps spirits were never as high as when the alcohol was brought out, and the participants poured in 50 litres of rum and whisky. The mix has been sealed in tubs, where it will soak in the alcohol for about two-and-half-months, until we take it out for baking a week before Christmas, says Khanna, estimating that about 500 lbs of cake will be made from the mix.

Courtyard by Marriott, Chakan, hosted its own first cake-mixing affair last weekend as well, where piles of raisins, cherries, pistachios, walnuts, black currants, dates, dried apricots, figs and spices were used.

But those who missed out on the experience can still make up for it this weekend, with cake mixing events lined up at both Mercure, Lavasa International Convention Centre and Le Meridien. As per tradition, the mix would be used to make a plum porridge which would be used to break the fast during Lent, before heavier food could be eaten. Over the years, flavours and techniques became more refined, and people began to make Christmas cakes and pudding, says G Raviraj, Executive Chef at Mercure, Lavasa International Convention Centre. While it was mostly families getting together for the mixing earlier, now it has

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