Come winter and the nip in the air incites cravings for rich, gooey sweet treats. And along with it comes the cheer and joy of the Christmas season that sets in with cake mixing. The timeless tradition has been kept alive in Delhi-NCR by many hotels, who annually organise ceremonies to mature the raw materials, just in time, to bake Christmas puddings, plum cakes and Stollen breads/cakes.
As the cake mixing ceremonies return to a physical format this year, with focus on sanitisation and hygiene, let’s take a look at how this marker of Yuletide spirit is being celebrated around the city.
Last year, owing to Covid-19, the cake mixing celebrations were a muted affair at many places, with attendees joining only virtually. Turning the virtual vibe back into a physical affair, this year is witnessing the return of the tradition. “It has been a symbol of unity, hard work and camaraderie for the families who started this tradition way back in the 17th century, and has been now adopted by hotels as an event to ring in the festivities of the Christmas season,” says Ullas Arora, operation manager, Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida, adding, “Covid-19 appropriate behaviour was followed with masked up invitees, and we ensured that only those vaccinated are invited.”
“The ceremony was conducted within the realms of our sanitised kitchen wherein we ensured stringent norms of safety, hygiene and social distancing,” says Rajesh Wadhwa, executive chef at Taj Palace New Delhi, which conducted the ceremony in October. He continues, “With a select team of pâtissiers led by our master pâtissier, chef Surendra Negi, we conducted a joyful cake mixing ceremony last month itself as the longer the fruit steeps, the richer and more indulgent the cakes become! We had used around 150kg of nuts and fragrant dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, candied cherries, black currants, orange peel, ginger peel and lemon peel and combined it with freshly pounded aromatic spices. Several litres of ambrosial spirit were used to steep the fruit and spiced and we’re allowing the redolent mixture to rest and mature for around 45 days to soak up all the goodness.” This mixture will be used to create an array of plum cakes and puddings, mince pies and more.
Maintaining highest levels of safety and hygiene, a cake mixing ceremony in Gurugram was also conducted in a sanitised area, where all the guests were handed gloves and asked to sanitise before entering the venue. “Cake mixing is typically a community event… We wanted to bring this experience to the people of Gurugram,” says Sanjay Gupta, general manager, Le Meridien Gurgaon.
Making the ritual all the more special, the ceremony at The Imperial New Delhi saw Liszt-Hungarian Culture Centre New Delhi engage in the traditional event. “This recipe is unique to us for many decades. Unlike other cakes, this one is the most sought after as it’s prepared in a distinct way with mounds and mounds of brown dates, black raisins, red cherries, and cashew nuts, topped with powdered cloves, cardamom, ginger peel, lemon peel, orange peel, dry figs, prunes, pistachios, and other exotic spices, mixed with 40 litres of liquor such as cognac, rum and red wine. Then our chefs will combine flour with this 100kg mixture for the dough to be baked to perfection for nearly 400 cakes,” says Prem Kumar Pogakula, executive chef at the hotel.
Are you tempted with the aroma of plum cakes already? Hail XMas!
Author tweets @Nainaarora8