My mum makes the Christmas cakes and the Christmas puddings every year. On the afternoon of the day she devotes to this mammoth baking drive, I take the girls to my parent’s house and we all help to add the final handfuls of fruit mince and have a stir. It’s a tradition we started when Sophia was a baby. I cherish the ritual.
Not least because mum does all the hard work and I just get to stir and eat the delicious results for the first three months of the new year.
The pudding is a very, very old recipe, the origins of which are lost in the culinary mists of generations past but which is really the most delicious on earth.
The Christmas cake, though, is made to a recipe from one of Betty’s cookbooks. It’s a Margaret Fulton compendium, a name which my Australian readers will know well. Margaret, now in her 90s, is one of our culinary treasures.
I love the spatters and stains; faded testaments to decades of use.
But my favourite is the annotations left by both Betty and my mum.
Little hints and tips, instructions to counteract the vagaries of the different ovens the cakes have been cooked in over the years, and even notes recording for whom the cakes were baked.
It’s a tangible, edible link down through the generations of our family.
I made a gentle suggestion about next year but mum’s far from ready to hand the making over to me. She says it would make her feel like she’s just shy of dropping off the perch. And we can’t have that.
It’s just as well really. I would totally burn the bottom.