With one thing and another, we’re a bit late on Christmas cakes this year.
We’ve normally gone through the whole process by now, and I am usually engaged in the month-long battle to keep Carole away from the cakes until we actually get to Christmas.
But, at last, the fruit is sitting in bowls in the kitchen, soaking up copious amounts of alcohol.
I always like this bit of the cake making process because it’s the part where you have to convince yourself that the amount of alcohol you’re adding to the fruit is plenty. Even though, on the face of it, it looks like cock all when compared to the huge amount of dried-grape based items. You have to get out of your head any preconception that “soak” the fruit means drown it in brandy.
Because, obviously, the soaking comes once the cake is made and baked and you keep going back with capfuls of brandy, feeding the cake until – if the cake were a person – it would be needing a new liver and, possibly, an intervention.
For a few years, because we make a couple of cakes, we adopted a technique favoured by my mum when it came to making the festive foodstuffs. We would mix up a large batch of the ingredients in a bucket, and then split that amongst the tins. However, this has one massive flaw which – somehow – never seemed to faze mum when she used to do it.
It’s fricking hard to mix two cake’s worth of flour and butter and the like, in a bucket with a wooden spoon. Especially until it’s light and fluffy. You can have a bit lighter than it was and maybe with some bubbles in, and then your arm just screams in agony like you’re Sylvester Stallone pulling someone up a cliff that they were previously hanging on. Couple that with the fact that Carole has the upper body strength of something made from damp string, and you can see what an absolute arsebiscuit of a job this was.
Well, that and the fact that every year without fail we’d soak the fruit in the bucket and then end up cursing because it shouldn’t be that way round. But this year, we’ve done it the right way round.
And, as an added bonus discovered that one of the bowls has a previously undiscovered crack in the bottom through which a trickle of brandy occasionally escapes.
And, as a further bonus on top of that, discovered that Peppa is quite fond of brandy…