For years, proof of the pudding lay in the plum cake on Christmas, but bakers in Delhi say flavours ranging from cranberry, raisins, peppermint to even alcohol are selling like — you guessed it — hot cakes!
‘People have become very picky; they are not driven by the crowd any more. Personalisation and customisation of food items have made them vocal about their taste,’ says Sandeep, an attendant at Wenger's bakery in Connaught Place.‘Earlier, plum cakes were the only option. But now, different flavours are being tried a lot. The usual plain flavours have become outdated, and a mix-n-match of different flavours is ruling this season,’ says Manoj, an attendant at Maxim's bakery in south Delhi.
Kishi Arora, the cakesmith at Foodaholics, says, ‘cranberry, berries, caramel, raisins, tutti frutti, peppermint, cherry amaretto and Tia Maria are some of the flavours and ingredients which are catching up. Chocolate rules the chart, as it is considered the most preferred base.’ ‘Tia Maria is a coffee liqueur made originally in Jamaica, using Jamaican coffee beans,’ she adds. The bakers claim moist cakes are the most preferred.
Kishi also reveals that alcohol is also being widely used in the preparation for Christmas confectionery this season. ‘Rum, wine, whisky, tequila and vodka are a few of the alcohols which are used. Alcohol not only adds flavour but, more importantly, acts as a preservative. This means that cake made with the right amount of alcohol such as brandy, whisky or rum, may last for months. ‘Alcohol is added at two stages. One is before the baking and the other while baking, wherein the food item is soaked in alcohol,’ she explains.
And what is the right proportion in which it should be used? ‘It totally depends on the customers' requirement. At times, they ask for quite a boozy cake; so we add two ounces of alcohol. Around 50-100 gm is common in the preparation of cakes,’ she says.
And what are the other food items popular this season? ‘It's not just cakes, but cookies, puddings, fudges, cup cakes and brownies. The bread varieties include sweet bread, ginger, candy canes and marshmallow, among others,’ says Sandeep. Catholic families traditionally prepare cakes at home and give a lot of importance to cleanliness and initial preparations.
‘Like other communities celebrate and exchange gifts, Christmas is a very big festival for us. We try to make the most of it and gift the traditional goodies,’ says Mary Pinto, a resident of south Delhi Explaining the cake preparations, Pinto says: ‘The ingredients (raisin, cashew nuts, cherries) need to be soaked in rum at least 15 days before starting the actual preparations. A powder of ginger, clove and cinnamon is prepared with a small proportion of vanilla essence and rum.’ He stresses that it is not white, but brown sugar that is used in these preparations.