December 12 ..
They say that the world is divided into those who love fruit cake and those who don’t. The same could be said of Christmas pudding, which is essentially the same thing as Christmas Cake, except that the mixture is boiled not baked. The Times newspaper ran an article called Christmas Cheer on this day in 1921, and gave short shrift to those “crabbed natures” who “express abhorence” of both sweets. It did, however, offer alternative recipes for such curmudgeonly readers, as well as one for the cook (i.e mother) who may feel that almond-iced and sugar-iced cakes may be “too much of a good thing” for her children.
Naturally for the time, such caring cooking advice appeared in the newspaper section called The Woman’s View - any men seen reading a cooking column would have been viewed with suspicion of great unmanliness (or worse), in the 1920’s. The lapse of over eighty years has made it - I am quite sure of this (and grateful) – very safe for male readers to tackle these dishes, so don your aprons and go forth with brave culinary abandon, gentlemen!
I give you all three recipes, which I have also added, for completeness sake, to the Vintage Christmas Recipes archive.
The pudding recipe may suit those who do not like their pudding “to emerge rich and dark from a long imprisonment in the basin”, but prefer a lighter more wholesome compound.
Enchantress Christmas Pudding.
½ lb each of bread crumbs, sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel, suet, brown sugar four eggs, and the zest of two lemons. Mix and cook in the usual way, serving brandy or orange butter.
Those crabby curmudgeons who dislike both pudding and cake are offered this dish:
Macédoine of Dried Fruits and Cake.
Cut into small pieces some glacé cherries, French plums, raisins, citron peel, dates, and a few crystallized or glacé French apricots, greengages, or pears. Put these into a stewpan with a tin of pineapple cut into small pieces with the juice added to the other fruit, let all get hot, and place in the centre of a hot silver dish with slices of spong-cake cut in rounds fried in butter to a pale brown on both sides. A dash of rum or maraschino flavouring the mixed fruit can be added, or the fruit could be piled onto a pyramid on a large round of fried cake divided into sections.
And for the little darlings ..
½ lb butter beaten to a cream with ½ lb castor sugar, break in four fresh eggs, beating each separately, add gradually ½ lb flour, then 1 oz of skinned and chopped pistachio nuts, 1 oz chopped sweet almonds, ½ lb glacé cherries halved, the grated rind of a lemon. Mix well, bake in a moderate oven for some two hours. Cover with soft icing, and decorate if desired.
Tomorrow’s Story …
How to feed Immigrants.
Quotation for the Day …
...Christmas is a season of such infinite labour, as well as expense in the shopping and present-making line, that almost every woman I know is good for nothing in purse and person for a month afterwards, done up physically, and broken down financially
Fanny Kemble (1809–1893), British actor.
Now, we all know that real men do indeed bake cakes. I have already prepared the Christmas pudding, and am periodically dousing it in whiskey in anticipation of the lighting on Christmas day. The relatives wholeheartedly approve (and they haven't even tasted it yet)! By the way, I often visit Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. They are located on Kemble Street, named after Fanny Kemble who summered there.
My definition of a real man is a man not afraid to don an apron and make real cakes. Speaking of which, t.w. - as soon as the New Year is in, I'll be expecting another Retro Cake!
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