A new take on the Christ­mas cake

If you are still mak­ing yours the way your grand­mother and great-grand­mother used to make it, it’s time to change things up this year, writes Me­gan Baad­jies

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

A CHRIST­MAS cake doesn’t have to be a brandy-soaked fruit­cake made weeks in ad­vance.

There are eas­ier ways to wow your guests and still stick to the fes­tive theme.

Christ­mas cakes are an English tra­di­tion and dur­ing De­cem­ber, while we’re soak­ing up the sun here in the south­ern hemi­sphere, the north is usu­ally cov­ered in snow and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dull, grey weather – hence the heavy use of spices and liquor, which is nec­es­sary and suits the cli­mate of those coun­tries.

So, with our fes­tive sea­son be­ing in sum­mer, it’s the per­fect ex­cuse to add a pop of colour and jazz up the flavour of your cake by play­ing around with fruits that are in sea­son.

Not ev­ery­one likes fruit­cake, so a lay­ered sponge or Christ­mas cook­ies are other great al­ter­na­tives to add to the fes­tive cheer.

A quick scroll though #christ­mas­cakes on In­sta­gram re­vealed that these cakes have taken on a new and more colour­ful form, with snow­men, rein­deer choco­late cakes, mini-Christ­mas trees and even Christ­mas cakesi­cles (a cake in the form of a pop­si­cle) all be­ing pop­u­lar.

I asked chefs Myn­hardt Jou­bert and Siphokazi Md­lankomo for their take on the Christ­mas cake trend and how we can in­clude it into our menu.

Christ­mas cakes are usu­ally fruit­cakes soaked in brandy and made weeks, if not months, in ad­vance. Is this still the case?

Chef Siphokazi:

Nowa­days, peo­ple have busy lives and want to do quick and easy bak­ing, so home­made Christ­mas fruit­cakes are not the way to go un­less you have a grandma at home who has the time to make it.

Chef Myn­hardt:

Things have changed over the years and al­though it im­proves the taste it is now ac­cept­able and very pos­si­ble to bake a Christ­mas cake and eat it straight away. Our recipe is spe­cially de­vel­oped to do just that

and is still very moist and flavour­ful.

How are Christ­mas cakes made and pre­sented dif­fer­ently from the tra­di­tional cakes?

Chef Siphokazi:

I have no­ticed that peo­ple are more cre­ative when it comes to cakes, like com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent flavours in one cake. And, not ev­ery­one likes fon­dant – some pre­fer naked cakes, for ex­am­ple.

There are so many dif­fer­ent recipes and all are very spe­cial as each one is unique and tells its own story. I have even seen recipes for a white Christ­mas cake made with sultanas and al­monds, and it sounds in­cred­i­ble.

Chef Myn­hardt:

What other al­ter­na­tives are there to tra­di­tional fruit­cakes?

Chef Siphokazi:

I sug­gest peo­ple buy fruit mince pies, Christ­mas choco­late cake, gin­ger­bread or Christ­mas cook­ies

Chef Myn­hardt:

I would sug­gest that in­stead of buy­ing, peo­ple get back into the kitchen and start bak­ing again. We have such a rich food his­tory and all of us have mem­o­ries of the hol­i­days and baked goods from our moms and grannies. Dig out those spe­cial recipes and get bak­ing. It is fun for the whole fam­ily, the kids can get in­volved and there is noth­ing quite like the feel­ing of putting out your own home-made cakes and cook­ies

What’s your idea of a South African-style Christ­mas cake?

Chef Siphokazi:

A per­fect cake would be a com­bi­na­tion of milk tart and malva pud­ding.

Chef Myn­hardt:

Moist, flavour­ful, not too dark, packed with whole green and red cher­ries, loads of nuts and soaked in lots of brandy – very much like the one I bake.

CO­CONUT sponge cake with mixed-berry mas­car­pone.

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