Winter, Christmas and cakes are braided with each other. Christmas can’t be imagined without cakes. Cakes are a delicious treat to the taste buds. This soft, spongy dessert, sometimes garnished with creamy icing is craved by one and all. Here is a unique lip-smacking cake recipe by chef Sandeep Das with ‘words-icing’ by Somashis Gupta
Winter is the most joyous season for Calcuttans. You will find the Para picnic parties dancing to the tune of ‘Tunir Maa’, the dipsomaniacs changes their propensity for whiskey to the evergreen Old Monk and next morning flushes out the hangover with a glass of pekoe in one of the many Chaayer Dokan. The Bangali Bhodrolok even cherishes Komla Lebu posterior to the mandatory Kosha Mangsho on a Sunday afternoon. It is this time of the year that, the low cost Airlines no longer remains low cost, courtesy the Bengalis.
Another significant custom of the wanderlust Bengalis is the Christmas cake or the ‘borodiner cake’ as it is called. You will find both the sybaritic and ascetic equally cherishing the gateau on Christmas day.
However what we eat today as Christmas cake is not exactly same as its original version which was more of a meaty affaire. Sometime during the 8th century when Christmas was more of a ‘Fast before you Feast’ people used to start fasting from 15th November following Jesus Christ’s example of 40 day fasting. This fasting was called ‘Philip’s Fast’. After the fasting it was the feasting with a thick meaty porridge with very little dried fruit made on Christmas Eve to serve the fasting souls.
The Christmas cake, as we know today, evolved in the form of plum porridge with addition of dry fruits, honey and Marzipan. Later during the 16th Century, oatmeal was taken off and replaced with flour, eggs and sugar.
Though there was no standardised recipe for it until Mrs. Isabella Beeton gave us the first ever recipe for Christmas cake sometime in 1861. Since then Christmas cakes are made well in advance with small holes in them where brandy and sherry is poured every week until Christmas. This is called ‘Feeding the cake’.
The last day of Christmas called the ‘twelfth night’, comes on the 5th of January when the 12th night Cake is baked with almonds and covered in Marzipan.
Today Christmas cakes come with multiple variations – light, dark, with Marzipan, with sugar glazing and many more. The Scottish version called Whisky Dundee is one of the most popular.
Talking of variations reminds me of an incident. So being an epicure I love experimenting with food. I was at this restaurant and felt like pleasing myself with a cake. Checking the menu I saw something unique. It read ‘Malai Rice Cake’. I ordered and what came in was a true delight. I ate and ate well. It pleased me so much that I wanted to speak to the chef. Shortly this young man comes to me and says, “You wanted to meet me?”
“Oh yes, I wanted to thank you for the astonishment,” I said.
“Glad you liked it” replied the chef.
“May I know whom am I speaking to?” I asked as I wanted to send an appreciation letter.
“I am Sandeep …Chef Sandeep Das”
Well I got an idea why not I call up Sandeep and ask for the recipe for you all. Wait…
“Hello Sandeep…How…I wanted…Okay…Fine…great ….Thank you so much Sandeep. Keep surprising us”
Yes I got it. Do you want it? Of course yes. I am definite that this soft texture cake with its heavenly blend will tickle your taste buds.
Here it goes….
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 45 minutes
Joha Rice – 100 gm
Grated coconut – 100 gm
Sugar – 80 gm
Butter – 50 gm
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Milk – 500 ml
- In a pan add 470 ml milk boil and reduce until half, Add 10 gm. sugar and simmer on low until thick.
Keep it aside.
- Wash Joha rice and soak for 3 hours. Then make fine paste with 30 ml milk in the grinder mixture.
- Add grated coconut into grinder mixture and make fine paste.
- Add 70 gm of sugar into grinder mixture and make powder.
- Now in a large mixing bowl add sugar powder and butter. Whisk until creamy texture.
- Now add rice paste, coconut paste, baking powder and beat until smooth consistency.
- Grease a baking tray, add the batter and bakeat 180 degree for 30 – 40 minutes.
- De-mould the cake and add thick milk on the top of cake. Rest for 30 minutes.
- Ready to serve healthy and tasty cake.
Happy? Now you go and try it and let me like a true Bong put on my Maplar(Muffler), Badortupi(Monkeycap) and enjoy my Malai Rice Borodiner Cake with some freshly brewed Makaibari second flush.
Source of Information on history of Christmas cake – moha-mushkil.com by Indrajit Lahiri.
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Sandeep is a food enthusiast. His passion for cooking encouraged him to become a chef. A graduate from IHM, Guwahati, Sandeep is a winner of numerous cooking competitions and founder of foodlovers332 page on Facebook and Instagram and a Food columnist on different newspaper- magazines.