Revelry and mirth is known by another name- Christmas! The fervor and festivity of Christmas is whetted as we submit wholly to the whims of our starving taste buds, feeding them with the flavors of the season. A mouthwatering spread is incomplete without the 'piece de resistance', the rich and exotic Christmas cake. As you wait to tuck into this baked delight, let's give you a snapshot of its metamorphosis into today's 'Christmas cake', which has undoubtedly sparked a worldwide gastronomic trend.
The Christmas cake, as it is popularly known today, originated from the fusion of erstwhile customs, practiced in England around 1870. Popularly called the 'Plum Porridge', the dish became a specialty, just as Christianity began gaining ground. The plum porridge was eaten with a specific purpose. Christians usually observe a fast on Christmas Eve, called 'Vigil'. The porridge was consumed the next day, as a good way to break the fast, its goodness known to protect the walls of the stomach.
As years went by, people got more creative. The modest porridge turned grandiose, with spices, fruits and honey, and took on the role of a 'special' Christmas dish. With all the embellishments, the Christmas porridge got thicker and earned itself another name - 'Christmas Pudding'.
The 16th century was a turning point for the Christmas pudding, which came to be known what it is today, Plum or Christmas cake. A potpourri of ingredients went on to make a memorable treat-butter, wheat flour (instead of oat meal) and eggs were blended well and boiled, to make the cake. Only affluent homes could boast of baking a cake, by virtue of owning an oven. Thus fruit cakes were baked, and some added marzipan, a paste made out of almond and sugar. Seasonal dried fruits and spices were also added, to form the delicious slice.
Today, Christmas cakes could be anything from spongy, dark, or moist to light, dry, or leavened, and in variety of shapes and sizes. Christmas cakes are baked almost a month before Christmas. The cake is normally inverted and stored in an airtight container. A small quantity of brandy, whisky or sherry is poured into the holes of the cake, - called 'feeding' the cake, till Christmas arrives. And the rest is history!
So, as you arrange the goodies and prepare for the Christmas spread, just remember what the Bible has to say about food and happiness. Just 'eat, drink and be merry', for it is Christmas!