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Jingle all the way

The cake mixing underway at The Gateway Hotel. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The city is shrouded in a blanket of thin mist as groups of enthusiastic guests gather on the lawns of the Gateway Hotel atop the Pasumalai hillock. A large table is laid out under the grey November sky and on it a colourful assortment of nuts and dry fruits is spread out beautifully. The chefs and hotel staff arrange and design the mixture in the shape of the dome of the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. “Let’s all join in the joy of Christmas,” announces Prakash K Nair, the General Manager of the hotel and charged up men, women, children and tourists put on the aprons and gloves and get ready for the cake mixing.

Soon the spirits are opened and poured onto the mixture and pairs of hands knead, blend and dig into the concoction. The heady aroma of nuts, raisins, apple, apricots, dried ginger and alcohol laces the cold evening breeze and it already feels like Christmas! Sanjay Singh, Executive Chef of the hotel, says, “We have put in nearly 20 ingredients. Traditionally in homes, the cake mixing is an affair of love and warmth, where people bring in different liquor from all the houses and the nuts are soaked in the spirits. The occasion symbolises auspiciousness.” “The difference in taste is achieved by altering the proportions of the various ingredients. For instance, if cinnamon is increased, then the cake may taste a bit spicier. I have added apple puree so that the cake is fluffier and softer.” Dried figs, apricots, pistachios, candied orange and star anise are some of the items that went into the mixture out of which 120 kgs of cake will be baked.

Arshad Sheriff, the head of Sales and Marketing, says, “Christmas is always about overflowing joy and happiness. The cake mixing ceremony is the highlight event and in a way is welcoming Christmas.” Mandy, a tourist from London, who took part in the ceremony, says, “I have been in India for over a week now and this was a surprise. Everybody is so rejoiced and it’s a delight to take part in the mixing.” “I was reminded of my childhood days when as kids we used to do the mixing for cakes and puddings in a baby box. Nowadays, the tradition has become rare as families have moved out. I hope the cake rises beautifully.”

On the other side of the city, Hotel Fortune Pandiyan had an elaborate cake mixing ceremony recently. “The traditional Christmas cake is an integral part of the festival and making it is not a cake walk. We held the mixing ceremony well in advance so that our cakes are tastier,” says Vivek Pathiyan, the General Manager. “At Pandiyan, we precisely mix the ingredients six weeks prior to Christmas, to allow the dough, nuts and fruits to get set properly.”

The 100 kilo mixture contains Orange bell, dates, walnuts, raisins, blackberry, blueberry and different kinds of dry fruits. Spices like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks are roasted and added for a rich flavour. The fresh baked matured tasty plum cake will be available The Pastry Shop from December 15 onwards.

Astoria Hotel at Ellis Nagar has also joined the bandwagon with its first cake mixing ceremony. Enriched with almonds, cashew nuts, tutty fruity, figs, ginger peel, orange peel, raisins, red cherries, apricots and dates, the mixture is a total of 25 kilos that will yield 100 kgs of cakes.


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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:07:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Jingle-all-the-way/article16441794.ece

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