I knew this was going to happen.
I could have preempted it and stopped this whole hideous situation in its tracks.
I could have taken myself to one side, had a quiet word, somewhere along the lines of;
Look love, you’re not a natural cook, much less a baker so why don’t you just make it easy on yourself.
Buy a Christmas cake.
Other people do.
It doesn’t make you a bad person.
No one even likes Christmas cake so it’s no big deal and, if you really, really must, you can lie and say you made it,
fed it with brandy weekly,
and stuck on the little tiny people all by yourself.
But no, you wouldn’t listen to clever old Jiminy Cricket would you?
And now, as a direct result of your utter imbecility you’ve been invited to join the WI by Barb.
How did this happen I hear you cry? Well- in the interests of you not becoming Martha Stewarts answer to the Anti Christ I will tell you.
Pull up a chair.
It all started in Masseys, the butchers. I picked up their Christmas order form and was immediately set upon by an old man. Lets call him Jim.
Ah- getting ready for Christmas are we?
You have to, it’s all in the planning.
I remember once when we went to my son and daughter in laws for Christmas.
They didn’t have a clue.
Not a bloody clue bless them.
The turkey wouldn’t fit in the oven so they chopped it in half and the whole thing was pretty much a disaster.
We go to the other sons now…he’s a chef.
It’s all in the planning.
He stopped short of saying- they’re dead to us know but I got the picture…failure is not an option!
And so, with Jims wise words ringing in my ears, I hot footed it straight over the road to get the library copy of Delia does Christmas. (Like the cookery version of Debbie does Dallas I imagine!)
IT IS OUT.
STOLEN NO LESS.
BORROWED AND NEVER RETURNED.
No doubt by some equally feckless individual who didn’t know their giblets from their goose fat.
Well thanks for that.
Big society my eye. Everyone is out for themselves.
Get flustered and take out Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess instead.
When we get home I leaf through Nigella’s book
and find a Christmas cake recipe which sounds achievable.
Call my mum to ask if I can borrow her cake tin. She’s chucked it.
Text talented yummy mummy mates to ask if I can borrow their tins. That’s a no go too.
In the inevitable pre Christmas panic I end up spending £29, £29 on a square cake tin which at best will be used annually but, possibly after this experience may in fact never see the light of day again.
I faff around with the grease proof paper, the layering with brown paper and tying with string and then, with blind optimism (and a helpful toddler) I begin on my Christmas cake quest.
Mixed fruits soaking by a open fire (or regular cooker if I’m honest)
Before long the kitchen is awash with the smell of mixed spice, brandy and Christmas. It smells divine.
I enjoy talking through the steps with my gorgeous girl and daydream about this becoming a tradition. Imagining that in years to come she’ll call me up to ask how she can ever hope to make a cake as good as Mumas so she can hand it down to her children.
Finally I triumphantly pour the mixture into the, so freaking expensive it should be gold, cake tin.
Oh crap- it is the thickness of a flapjack.
Check the recipe again. Yep, I did everything it said.
Check tin size with Delia…20cm
Check tin size with Nigella…25cm
And that my friends is how I came to be begging a tin from Barb at 7.30 on a Sunday night, moments after they’d returned from a cruise (very nice thanks, the Canaries)
You know how it is, we don’t really know our neighbours yet so it was the height of cheek for me to even ask but, it seems Barb is quite the cook.
Within moments she was emptying tins and Tupperware onto her table to find the right thing for me. Very kind.
And that is when she hit me with it… If I wanted to learn more about cooking, craft and, well anything like that really, I should join the WI. She’s only the ruddy president.
It’s not what you know it’s who you know people.
This time next year I could be baps out in a calendar.
Reproduced from WI images
So, tell me, how is your Christmas shaping up?!
PS- Here’s the finished article…here’s hoping that the icing will hide a multitude of sins!! I’ll let you know…
The Christmas Chaos Cake