It’s Christmas Eve and you are giving the finishing touch of a picture-perfect day with the yummiest creation on earth – The Christmas cake. Most of us cherished the first piece of Christmas cake we ever had in our life. Christmas cake is captivating millions around the globe. It’s not entirely meant to eat at the first place, it’s a piece of art we prefer to look at. Hope the intro is not reaching the limits of sanity. As the history of this particular cake has so many twists and turns that is as legendary as the inedible hardness of this cake.
Still today Christmas will be incomplete without a delicious cake. Undoubtedly the Christmas cake is one of the main attraction of Christmas. Christmas cake is an English tradition but the cake is so special and delicious that it became a pride of Christmas. Here in Australia, Christmas was first celebrated in 1788. As this cake is central to our celebration, everyone waits for having that magical bite of Christmas cake. But do you know this cake has a long history to tell?
If we start to tracing back the birth of Christmas cake, we would get amazed by the journey of it. The traditional Christmas cake that we are enjoying today has evolved a lot until today. The tradition of making a cake on Christmas started from early 18th century. Our traditional Christmas cake is a combination of plum porridge and the Twelfth Night cake. People used to eat plum porridge after having a day-long fast. This custom has been practised since the beginnings of Christianity. They celebrate the ‘Vigil’ a long-gone term for Christmas Eve with a plum porridge.
The 5th of January as we know it the Twelfth Night is the last day of Christmas celebration. It has been celebrated after twelve days of Christmas as the end of the festive season. According to the Christian calendar, Twelfth Night also stands for the grand feast of the Epiphany. Back then a handful of people have the luxury of the oven. So, the cake of Twelfth Night was only baked in big houses. The first half of that cake contained a Baked Bean and the other half got a baked Pea. Whoever got that Bean supposed to be the king of the night or a guardian angel for a year. Those cakes contained lots of dry fruits, alcohol, nuts etc. They used almond paste or sugar for the topping. The ingredients were a clear symbol of luxury.
People used to add dried fruits, spices and honey on their porridge. Whether they enjoyed the porridge or not, they tend to show off an extravagant display of foods on Christmas. Soon the plum porridge mixture became so stiff in texture that people would wrap it in a cloth and boiled it for hours. That is how we got the idea of a traditional Christmas pudding. Here presents no Christmas cake at all. But a twist makes it all happen. Some of them improvised their recipe by replacing oatmeal with butter, flour and egg in the 16th century. After they boiled it properly, we get our first plum cake. Since then boiled plum cake and boiled plum pudding stand side by side with a mere difference of ingredients.
At that time, people used to get the plum cake for Easter celebration. But when a bunch of dried fruits inundate the plum cake with a topping of marzipan or almond paste, that represents their version of Christmas plum cake. Here we must recognize the Crusaders who brought those exotic spices from east.
Oliver Crowell, the Lord Protector of England, do owe some credits as well. As he seemed to be the biggest party pooper the culinary industry has ever faced till to date. He and some fellow puritans thought Twelfth Night has been an event of over indulgence, so they banned that for a while.
Gradually the popularity of Twelfth Night started to decline. And the birth of Christmas cake was a bit away then. In 1870, the official announcement came out to withhold the unchristian festival of Twelfth Night. To overcome their lost revenues, the confectioners from all over Britain started preparing a special kind of fruit cake. You may address it a better version of boiled plum cake for December only. People started to share this special fruit cake for Christmas with their loved ones from other parts of the world like Europe and Australia. Thus, Christmas became the main attraction to celebrate in the mid-18th century.
You can’t compare any other cakes with a Christmas cake. As the passion and dedication behind the making of the cake make it more special. Other than the classic fruit cake layered with icing, the Scottish Dundee cake made with whisky is another type of Christmas cake. Usually, people start to make their Christmas cakes in November or in the first week of December.
Various recipes are followed to make this cake. It can be light or dark, dry or moist, full of fruits or chocolate, and many more. People used to preserve the cake in an airtight container. They create small holes in the cake and pour a very little amount of whisky, sherry or brandy every week. This process is known as feeding the cake. People are very passionate about their Christmas cake and can give huge effort to make it a perfect one.
It needs a certain delicacy to make a Christmas cake. But if you are not passionate enough or a disaster in cake making you can still order it online. Many online shops are offering traditional Christmas cakes for sale to make your day special. Some of them go with their family recipe, on the other hand, some follow a customised and new recipe. But either way, their main goal is to make your Christmas the best one with the perfect Christmas cake. So, grab your Christmas cake and enjoy your holidays.