November 14, 2015
Kolkata Soaks in the Christmas Spirit as Christmas Cake Mixing begins at The Lalit Great Eastern.
The city of Joy is ready for Christmas and different activities have begun as well. Cake mixing is one such activity which is related to Christmas. People from different communities take part in this ritual irrespective of their religions. For Christians, this is a much anticipated event and the families gear up for this unique ritual. Cakes are amazing Christmas gifts as well and it is capable of instantly bringing a smile on anyone’s face. The delicious plum cakes or lip-smacking plum puddings are prepared by extremely talented chefs in hotels and bakeries.
There are a few hotels in Kolkata which are well known for making extremely delicious cakes. One such place is the Lalit Great Eastern Hotel; it becomes a hotspot right at the time of Christmas. Indeed, the cake mixing ceremony has now become a way to cheer with the chefs, media, clientele and a grand prelude to baking lip-smacking cakes. This year cake mixing event celebrated at Lalit Great Eastern on 6th November. Mr. Dilip Mishra, Resident Manager, Lalit Great Eastern Hotel along with Manager PR & Marcom – Madhumita Bose Banerjee led everyone to the mixing table, as is tradition at the hotel, to welcome the festival season with a fruit soaking ceremony ahead of Christmas.
The environment was charged with pre-Christmas cheers, all the guests including me geared with apron, cap and gloves joined the chefs in the cake mixing ceremony. I noticed that dry fruits like raisins, black currants, prunes, glazed dates, cherries, candid orange, lemon rinds and nuts like cashews, pistachios and almonds are there. Management made a small announcement that there will be a lucky coin in every mixing tray for one lucky winner.
Then comes the best part – that is pouring in generous quantities of wine, rum and whiskey, fresh juices and honey. The mixture was tossed and patted by the participants till all the fruits and nuts were evenly coated. Freshly ground spices are also added and tossed till the dry fruits and nuts are well smeared. Soaking dry fruit0s, nuts and spices in wine and liquor hoping the fine flavour will fill the festival with its delectable sweetness. There was lots of cheer, loads of mixing and loads of cameras clicking. I finally got the lucky coin from my respective mixing tray and win the gift voucher.
The chefs follow a special recipe which was created a long time ago. The veteran chefs know the secret and mix the ingredients equally. Many of them collected small portions of recipes by talking with different people and they apply that knowledge while preparing the cakes. It was also learned that the variety of cinnamon used in the preparation was different. The European Mountain cinnamon was responsible for the inviting aroma. The celebrity Chef Madhumita Mohanta of Lalit Great Eastern described the procedure in detail and said the mixture is usually preserved in a tight container and is opened every 2 or 3 days for stirring. This helps in fermentation and the cake becomes very tasty.
The bakeries throughout the city have a very busy schedule during this time. Some of them do the mixing much earlier and it takes place inside their factory. Preferably, the ingredients should be mixed, one and half months before the date of consumption and in this way; the right flavour can be achieved. In order to create a perfect cake, the right mix is very essential. Baking technique is another crucial area and it hugely contributes in making a cake perfect. The ideal temperature is between 200°C-230°C and great cakes have a small crack on top of them. It is a sign that the baking is perfectly done.
The ceremony started hundreds of years ago and it has a different significance to it. In the European countries, this is the time of reaping. Plenty of fresh fruits as well as delicious nuts were produced and they were used as the main ingredients of the popular plum cake. Not only this, a small slice was kept aside as many believed it would increase the yield of crops in the following year. Slowly people in the major cities participated in this event and this small ritual transformed into a big event. But there are variations, in some families, it is a private affair and they don’t take part in the big event. The melodiousness of the cake fills everyone’s heart with pleasure and the festival becomes more amusing.
The place wore a vibrant ambiance, buzzing with laughter and excitement. Setting a jovial mood of a perfect evening, the guests enjoyed the generously flowing drinks and indulged in interesting delicacies lined up by Executive Chef and her team. This ceremony gives the hotel, bakery owners and chefs an opportunity to share the joy with their customers and this British tradition is practiced very religiously in Kolkata.