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We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Its christmas time! time to celebrate with cakes and wine.
The global tradition of the rich Christmas cake and pudding as we know it today can be traced to two customs which became one around 1870 in Victorian England. Interestingly, Crusaders returning from the wars in the Holy Land in the 12th century took the spices used in the traditional cake and the puddings to Europe. Accounts of German and Polish Crusader's travels through India can be found in various history tomes.

This custom has traveled across the seas, to our city as well. In Mumbai, Hotel Marine Plaza welcomed the festive Yuletide season with a grand ceremony in which General Manager Anurag Bajaj and Head Chef Mark Crocker lead the hotel's team of chefs and special guests in mixing 300 kg of fruit, caramel, eggs, spices, rum and other ingredients last year. Says Bajaj, "Christmas heralds one of the most joyous and fun-filled celebrations in our hotel with our chefs creating Yuletide delicacies and specialties like Santa Claus's very own Ginger Bread House." In a hoary tradition in hotels the world over, the cake mixture is allowed to mature for two months before it is baked as the perennially popular Christmas pudding and rich fruitcake.

Introduced in India by British troops, the art of baking the cake was soon acquired by Indian chefs. Traditionally, a sixpence would be placed within the mixture. At the Marine Plaza, Chef Crocker placed coins in various denominations for the trainee chefs to find and take delight in!

At the Taj, the Xmas pudding cake mix has been a tradition for over 60 years, says Chef Navroz Iranpour who has been making it for the last 34 years. "Last year, we prepared an 800 kg cake, which was sold out within a couple of weeks. I learnt how to make 'it from my pastry chef guru, the late Pascal Coelho. We use 28 ingredients in all, now I include a few of my own." And those are? "A trade secret," he answers smilingly.

The Oberoi-Hilton's pastry chef Olivier Vincenod says that he got his recipe from the Caribbean. This year, he plans to make a large 1000 plus kg cake, of which some will be parceled to valued friends, patrons and long term clients. This cake is ideally served with a brandy or whisky sauce! Wish one came to you, right?
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Posted on : 2/12/2005
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