[M-R look away now]
I had this great idea for my Border Line book launch, it would be an afternoon affair with tea, coffee and cakes… so simple. The only problem is that I really cannot bake cakes and I have more than sixty hungry people coming on November 8th and I do want them to feel good (and, of course, buy books). I have ordered some mini cakes from our village café (lovely but expensive), and my daughter will help. Still, I am a tad concerned. I have in the past made passable fruit cakes, and they keep, so I thought I’d start with these.
I found five suitable tins, did some maths, but stupidly did not really take in the quantities I was juggling with, and started mixing currants, raisins, sultanas, glacé cherries and candied peel prior to soaking them in brandy.Of course, I didn’t have containers built for this scale of catering, but after a sticky 20 minutes, managed to mix the fruit fairly evenly for overnight brandy-soaking. Next afternoon my task started with preparing the tins – I’m a dab hand at this, but it takes time. I’m finally about to get started when the Broadband engineer arrives. We don’t normally keep the phone and the router in the kitchen, but our main telephone socket is there and and our internet provider is insisting we use this socket until the problem (now three months old and this is the fourth engineer to visit) is sorted. I clear the table. After an hour the engineer has (Halluljah!) taken router and phone to husband’s desk.
I assemble all the other ingredients and start measuring – we’re talking twenty eggs here and 2 1/2 kilos butter never mind the flour, sugar, spices etc. [The glass of wine is merely a kitchen aid]. So I run to a neighbour to borrow some mixing bowls and decide I’d better cream the butter and sugar in two lots. My maths is suspect as I have more fruit than I will ever be able to put into the two lots of mixture. By the time I have grated five oranges, five lemons, added all the final ingredients, filled the tins and put them in the oven, it is 8 pm and we are HUNGRY. The cakes are supposed to take a minimum of four hours. I take some out at 3 hours and the others at midnight, I have a horrible fear that I have overcooked them (death to fruitcakes).In the morning they at least look the part. I shall feed them with brandy and perhaps display them temptingly, but out of reach, on the day. I now have about a kilo of brandy-soaked fruit unused and a small bowlful of uncooked fruitcake mix.
Although I enjoyed the mud-pie side of hand mixing the dried fruit, I think, on the whole, I’d better stick to writing.