Jamaicans take Christmas seriously. Very, very seriously. And there is nothing that symbolizes how much preparation and forethought goes into the one day than in the baking of the Christmas Cake. Several pounds of dried mixed fruits, prunes, raisins, cherries are purchased and soaked in rum and red wine months in advance and the grumblings about the high cost of basic food items die down as homemakers set out to buy around 20 different ingredients for one dish. Even the thought of the cost of a cylinder of LPG goes out the window as we cram our stoves with cakes for mommy, daddy, co-workers and anyone who will be stopping by during the season.
But who can resist the soul warming aroma of baking cakes, or the bonds forged as family members pitch in to combine the ingredients or just feast on the leftover batter. It’s just not a Jamaican Christmas without cake, sorry to say. It is just one of those traditions that will be with us forever.
Granted migration and urbanization has Jamaican families spread throughout every corner of the island and the globe making it difficult to pass on these traditions to the younger generations. Internet search engines churn out over a million hits; most of them recipes, but learning how to make cake at the hearth under the instruction of one’s mother, grandmother or aunt is a memory that cannot be digitized or “Skyped”.
Check out the 2012 Gleaner Christmas Cookbook for quite a few Christmas Cake recipes.