Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Cake

So, I was out and about yesterday running errands and meeting folk and had fuck-all time to grab a proper bite to eat before work.  My 1pm appt. at the tutoring center that was to initially have been scheduled for 1.30 ("Holborn is sooo close to here, don't worry about being late for work"), but I pushed it back a bit, wound up lasting until 2pm, so I had to rush to get to The People's Supermarket for my 2.30 start time.  Lame.

I caught the tube at King's Cross and made good time in getting to Bloomsbury, but still had only ten minutes to spare before my shift began.  In that time I had hoped to stuff my face with something cheap and quick, so that I wouldn't be doing prep. work in the kitchen while drooling over whatever it was that I'd be cutting, dicing, mincing, or slicing that day.  There were slabs of individually wrapped breads that, sort of, looked like carrot cake, or something, with raisins lodged in them for sale and on display on the counter of the kitchen in which I'd be working.  The wrapper read "eternity", but I couldn't tell you what in the hell that meant.  Undaunted and super hungry, I unwrapped one, putting the wrapper with bar code label into my pocket, so that I could pay for it after my shift, and stuffed the thing quickly into my mouth.

Christophe, the French dude that usually heads the kitchen on Mondays, was out with a bad back, so I wasn't even sure if I'd be working in the kitchen this shift.  If I weren't in the kitchen, then I'd be out on the floor restocking shelves, and, while I wouldn't mind doing it, wasn't keen on the idea.  Fortunately, I was able to locate the morning shift guy, John, and ask what was to be done during the afternoon shift.  "You'll be icing cakes", he said.  Okay, I thought, at least I'll be in the kitchen, if, however, not prepping for our usual evening meal.

Geraldine, another member who works occasionally, had been called in to replace Christophe and help me with our cake project.  In a few minutes' time, another woman, Aki, also came to lend a hand.  Three people, as it turned out, were just barely enough to meet the needs of what was to come.

Before leaving for Swedish class, John, with the help of Geraldine, brought up around ten, large pans of cake to be, as it turned out, both 'marzipaned' and iced.  After nearly four hours of feeding, slicing, rolling and draping, we never got to the icing stage.

Our task was broken down into three parts:  Geraldine was to roll out the already made marizpan, Aki was to cut off any hard bits of cake around the edges and put them on a plate for members' consumption, then 'feed' the remaining cake brandy after having scored the tops of all of them with a skewer, my job was to cut the slabs of cake into more manageable chunks, then apply the 'glue' (apricot jam mixed with a bit of water ) to the tops and sides of cakes, and, finally, fashion the slabs of marzipan around them.  -sounds not too terribly challenging, right?  Fortunately, or not, we were sustained in our work by eating bites of the burnt bits of cake that Aki had piled high on three separate chargers.  My routine was this: glue and drape a cake with marzipan, have a bite of burnt-bit-cake, wash and dry hands, and start again.  This carried on for a good hour, or so, until I felt slightly ill.

After three-and-a-half hours we were mostly done with 'marzipaning' the cakes.  We hadn't even begun making icing for them, however.  Now, it was time for clean-up and figuring out where to store our brood.  There were a few cakes baked in loaf tins that Geraldine thought we should slice, wrap and sell for two pounds a piece.  Aki and I were in charge of this effort.  As Aki sliced and bagged, I tagged and sealed.  Not knowing what to write on the labels--it hadn't occurred to me to ask what the cake was called--I asked Geraldine how I should label them.  She said, "just write 'eternity' on it.  They last forever!"

Ugh.  The stomachache growing in my belly after eating more than my share of cake-ends felt as if it would last forever, too.


  1. Ugh I would have been full of cake that day. I tend to stay far far away from bakerys and markets when Im hungry! Glad you made it, sounds like a very busy day :)

  2. Thanks, girl. Xmas cake, btw, is sort of like our fruit cake-dense and intense! I can't believe I kept eating it. :S

  3. Just a note: all the xmas cakes sold well before the 25th! Well done us!


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