Christmas is here again and for many, it is a time for celebration and jubilation. But for me, Christmas also tells me that the year is coming to an end and the contemplative and reflective mood sets in. I generally steer away from crowds so no count down parties for me. But what I do like is a bit of festive indulgence, something in sync with the mood for the holidays. No turkey for me, not the traditional way at least. Had never been a fan and I probably never will. On the contrary, I’m all for the numerous sweet treats which the Christmas season offers. Eggnogs, gingerbread men, assorted cookies… are just some of the things I love! But what I’d always craved for every year around this time, is a good Christmas fruit cake. Rich and moist, it is packed with nutty and fruity indulgence amidst all the rummy alcoholic decadence. But truth be told, despite how much I liked it, I couldn’t go beyond two slices. With the traditional Christmas fruit cakes, it was sheer heaven as the flavours and aroma just hit me instantly as I sink my teeth into it for the first bite. But soon, the richness turns into heft and before long, the sickening sweetness creeps in. That is the reason why I’d not made a proper Christmas fruit cake in years as I knew my family would never be able to finish it proper. All this was until a good friend Chris shared a fruit cake with me last year and I was immediately blown away. It was all of that is of a fruit cake that I’d always thought of and hoped for but it doesn’t taste as heavy as the traditional ones would. Another friend Lynette too shared her fruit cake recipe with me and upon comparison, I found striking similarities between these two recipes used by these two ladies. So the best thing I did was to combine what I thought to be the strengths and wonderful attributes of both recipes and it turned out wonderful! So this is the recipe to create the Christmas Loaf Cake which I’d always wanted and here I am to share it with you all!
Simplicity can be such a curse. No doubt a simple pound cake requiring only a handful of ingredients is hardly a technical challenge compared to an multi-component entremet. Yet, it is often the simplest things that are the easiest to pick up but most difficult to master. As such, I’m constantly on the hunt for THE perfect cake recipe, if there’s ever such a thing, be it a pound or chiffon, or even a simple buttercake. Some recipes “worked” for a while, and just when you thought you’d nailed it, a better cake comes along and sends one back to the drawing board! And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s been through this!
While searching over youtube for French recipes to prepare a rack of lamb, I came across a BBC cooking series “Kitchen Secrets” hosted by renowned French chef Raymund Blanc. Monsieur Blanc left France in the 1970s and crossed the English channel , where he found a new life and new hopes. Entirely self-taught with no formal training in classical techniques whatsoever, he opened his first restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons as a small shop in 1977 before expansion in 1984. The restaurant was conferred two michelin stars a year later and held them since. I found myself glued to the cooking series, watching the episodes for the two seasons running over youtube, all in a single sitting. Naturally, having spent all that time in front of the monitor, I didn’t get to prepare that rack of lamb for that evening’s dinner, but all was not lost as I found myself quite inspired.