The 20th of December, 2016 has seen the official birth of my baking skills documented in blog format.
I find that mixing a batter, placing it in the oven and receiving the grandest of masterpieces late at night, not only provides therapy; it teaches me lessons of life. I am allowed the opportunity to reflect on times gone by and imagine times to come. It’s all in the motion of cutting and folding. When one cuts and folds, one supposedly areates the mixture to ensure that all things are blended properly and it helps the mixture to become light and fluffy. These are the baking principles set by the baking gods.
Cutting and folding a cake mixture reminds me of the saying “cut and guh chru”. Essentially, it matters not what’s happening around you, within you or to you; you MUST find a way through it or around it. You must and you will. Because, at the end of that chapter in your life, you ought to be a different person based on the journey you trod.
•So you cut your footpath and walk through
• Fold with each step you take. Fold all crosses mixed in with goodness.
•Sweat a little (The kitchen tends to get hot)
•Cut some more
• Fold some more
•Find the fiery oven
•You then go through some tough, hot and rough times.
•Hold out as you think you’re dying in the fire.
••• Ding!!!! *the timer stops and you’re not sure what’s happening*
• Walk out of the oven a different you.
The process is complete and you wind up being a different and usually a better version of yourself.
Tonight’s batter produced the awesomeness of a traditional Jamaican Christmas cake. Perhaps the people of the World call it fruit cake or black cake.
Toh-May-Toe / Toh-Mah-Toe.
This mixture is a Stewart tradition secret recipe so I am not at liberty to share the list of all items and the procedure with you.
My mother and I prepare our main ingredient months in advance as we need the cake to be of the right consistency and evenly proportioned in terms of smoothness, and ‘RUMness’.
So what we do is we buy dried fruits, stew them in fruit wine, rum, Brandy among other things. We let that sit to cool and then send them through a food processor. This is followed by the use of large glass jars. We fill the jars with our processed, stewed dried fruits. Then, we let it sit for months on end.
At around November/December of each year, we start baking. We prepare the following :
Each ingredient is inserted in the mix portion by portion in a huge clay potted bowl we call a Yabba. We use a 12″ wooden spoon and begin to mix, pour, sift, cut and fold. The mixing is the hardest part as we tend not to use any electronic mixer. Our hands do the mixing with the spoon. It’s about maintaining tradition, yes.
We pour batter into as many baking tins as allowed and we bake at 300° F.
Takes about 45 mins. Use a toothpick to test and you’re good to go.
Let me just say that baking these cakes gives you the best arm workout. Ever!!! Who needs dumbbells when you have fruit cake batter to mix?!
The lesson: Your destiny is already written. Your life has been prepared and you’re living it when the appropriate times approach. The fiery hell you find yourself in right now is but a process of baking to turn you into awesomeness. Stick it out. You’ll love you’re new self and everyone else will too. Those who don’t will have to adjust to your taste or leave you alone. But, that’s fine. Never mind then. Not every pastry is for everyone. Those who love you will always want more.
Signed with love and flour on my nose,
The Night Baker.