The cake mixing ritual is often celebrated on a grand scale to ring in the joy of the Christmas season. This age-old Christmas tradition also marks the arrival of the harvest season. The dry fruits, nuts, grains and spices that are required to make the traditional plum cake are mixed and soaked in high quality rum, wine or other alcoholic beverages. This elaborate mixing process is what gives the cake its unique flavour, aroma and texture.
More than fifteen varieties of dried fruits including dried grapes, dates, fig, cherries and papaya and nuts like cashews, pistachios and almonds, spices like dried ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and sugar, all purpose flour, ghee and eggs are mixed in the right proportions and are then soaked in rum, wine or fruit juices. These soaked fruits and nuts are stored in air tight glass containers or jars for up to 7-8 weeks. The flavours of the fruits, nuts, spices and other ingredients merge to form a special flavour and aroma.
The traditional ritual of mixing the ingredients is known as the 'mix it up' ceremony. The history of cake mixing dates back to 17th century in Britain. The cake mixing ritual is celebrated in Britain on the first Sunday of November. These mixtures are then refrigerated until all the flavours and aromas are blended well. It is believed that the first cake was baked in Egypt. However, the first icing cake was born in Europe in the 17th century. In the olden days, cakes were made by roasting high quality wheat flour.
History of cake mixing
In the 17th century, cake mixing was an intimate family affair. The family members would gather after the harvest season to celebrate and share the happiness of the upcoming Christmas and the New Year seasons. Fresh fruits, dried fruits and the grains that they had harvested would be mixed and soaked in alcohol, fruit juices and wine. Every member in the family would be part of this unique ritual of baking the festive fruit cake. These gatherings were symbols of their unity, hard work and camaraderie. The families would distribute these cake mixtures among their friends and relatives. They took great pride and joy in gifting the cake mixes so that everyone could taste their unique recipes.
Christmas cakes have been part of English tradition since ages. It was the plum porridge that later got transformed into Christmas cake. Plum porridge was a gooey oats mixture loaded with raisins and other amazing ingredients. In the olden days, plum porridge was enjoyed on the Christmas Eve, after the lent season, to refresh the palette and stomach for the grand Christmas feast. Years later, the oats mix got replaced with wheat, butter and eggs and took the shape of a plum cake. Dried fruits and spices were then added to preserve the cake. Spices were added in the cake as a symbol of the spices that the Magi had brought as gift for baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The ingredients, shape and the texture of the Christmas cakes have evolved since then. Alcohols like rum, whiskey and brandy are added into the fruit mix to give the cake a unique taste. The quintessential marzipan and meringue decorations that were used on the cakes, meanwhile, date back to the 12th century in the patisserie in France.