Tuesday 26 November 2013

Festive Cheers: Cake Mixing Ceremony at Fresco, Janpath.....& A Recipe for Christmas Cake

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love." -- Hamilton Wright Mabie
Joy to the world, the Lord is come..... the melodious sound of Christmas Carols greeted me as I stepped inside the doors of Fresco, the popular Italian and Mediterranean restaurant on Janpath.  Inside, it looked like it was Christmas already. To match the festive mood, the whole restaurant was beautifully decked up in traditional hues of Christmas, with green and red ornamental decorations and silver bells and wreaths adorning the doors and walls of the restaurant. To add to the merry occasion, on arrival we all were handed Santa hats to put on.
It is believed that cake mixing ceremony fulfills wishes and is said to usher in good tidings and happiness. Here too, at Fresco the holiday season was welcomed with lot of gaiety and merriment with a traditional cake mixing ceremony last week. 
What caught my eye was an extremely colorful and attractive display of trays, right in the center of the restaurant, filled up with mixtures of dry fruits and candied fruits and with the 'spirit of the season' - bottles of rum and whiskey embedded inside the fruits. The blend consisted of dry fruits like black currants, walnuts, almonds, cashews, figs, dates and lots of candied fruits. It was amazing to see how meticulously all the fruits were chopped up and arranged to make a beautiful pattern. 
To set the ceremony off, we were each handed gloves and green aprons. Bottles of wine, whiskey and rum were poured in generously amidst a lot of cheer and laughter. To make the ceremony even more interesting, Chef Ankit Mangla told us that there was a surprise hidden inside the fruits that we were supposed to find. With a lot of gusto and enthusiasm, everyone dug into the mixture, trying to look for the hidden treasure which incidentally turned out to be 10 rupee coins. The winner was the one who found the most number of coins. I think it was an absolutely ingenious way invented by the chef to keep us focused on the task at hand which was to turn over the fruits and mix them thoroughly. Truly this was one occasion when one cannot say that, "Too many cooks would spoil the broth". On the contrary, it is said that more the people join in, merrier the occasion and more bountiful the year is going to be. 
The fruit mixture was then taken away to be left to soak in the liquid and develop the aromas and flavors in time for Christmas. This mixture would then be used to make Christmas cakes. After seeing all the ingredients going in and inhaling all the heady aromas, I for one cannot wait to take a bite of the scrumptious Christmas cake when it is finally ready.
I loved the ceremony and thought it was a beautiful way to ring in the festive season.
The cake mixing ceremony was followed by a sumptuous brunch spread with authentic Mediterranean delicacies prepared by Chef Ankit Mangla and his team at Fresco. I leave you here with some mouthwatering pictures of the delicious food that was served to us that day and also the recipe of the Christmas cake below which Chef Ankit Mangla was kind enough to share.

Christmas cake ( recipe courtesy Chef Ankit Mangla)

For Soaking:
100 gms chopped Prunes 
100 gms chopped Tutti Frutti (red, green and yellow)
100 gms chopped Raisins
100 gms chopped Black Currants
50 gms chopped Candied orange peel 
50 gms chopped Candied glazed cherry
50 gms soaked and chopped Figs 
50 gms chopped Dates
100 gms chopped Almonds
100 gms chopped Walnuts
60 gms choppedCashew nut
125 ml Brandy
125 ml Rum
Spice Mix :
!/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
!/2 tsp Clove powder
!/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
Rest of the ingredients:
360 gms Flour
360 gms unsalted butter
310 gms Dark brown sugar
9 large  Eggs

Preheat the oven to 150 C.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for soaking together and mix well. 
Cover with a plastic wrap and leave it aside to macerate. (The more the merrier)
Add cake spice mix to the above mixture and mix well.
In a separate cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs well separately and then mix it in gently in the egg mixture.
Stir in flour and fruit mixture. At this stage the mixture will be soft and moist.
Line a cake tin with grease proof paper.
Spoon in the mixture in the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven at 150 C for 13/4 hours to 2 hours. The cake should have risen nicely and a deep brown allover.
Insert a skewer into the center of the cake. If there is sticky dough it need cooking longer.
Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
Once cooled, prick the surface of the cake and pour in 2 to 3 tbsp brandy.   

Enjoy the recipe!! Here are some pictures of the delicious spread that was served to us.

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