Thursday, 17 November 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - November 17, 2016

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A Visit with an old Family Friend on a Frosty November Morning

I awoke to temperatures of -2°C and a blanket of sparkling frost over the ground. A pretty November morning in the country. But in the town, in the land of retail, disturbing signs have emerged. The Christmas Hype has begun.  BUT...

...while the sound and light show of Yuletide already plays at any mall, big box store and even small box store in town, let me remind you of the rules of this house.

No outside lights,
No indoor decorations,
No Christmas baking

BEFORE the First Sunday in Advent!
with one small exception...

The Fruit Cake

The loaves, dark and heavy with fruit and rum, need time to mature, in a cool dark place where rich flavours can develop sealed within the oiled paper they were baked in.

This old family friend has been hanging out in November for at least four generations. It crossed the Atlantic circa 1846 according to family records and it has been the one and only Christmas Cake in this family ever since.

As I write, glace fruits, raisins, pecans, almonds, molasses, and honey are making merry with a generous pour of a dark Cuban rum. Okay so maybe it's several generous pours of rum! And yes, it was probably brandy back in merry old England, but changed to rum soon after arriving in New York.

Making the Fruit Cake is the best old friend November and I could ever have. Maybe it's the rum...

I will let the fruit and rum continue to mingle and mellow until Saturday morning. I'll test the mixture often of course. Then I'll oil up the heavy brown paper to line the baking pans before mixing together eggs, butter, flour and warm spices to make just enough batter to hold all that happy fruit together.

Getting the batter into the pans is a heavy lift. This is not a batter one can pour.

Last year's batch, ready for the oven

One year I broke a ladle trying to get the job done! I now entrust the job to this beast:

For two hours or more, three loaves will take up centre stage in a low oven.

My kitchen will swell with the fragrant incense of Christmas yet to be.
And that's more than enough decoration for this old soul in November.

©2016 April Hoeller

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