A tasty centrepiece cake bursting with dried fruit and nuts and infused with cognac
Packed with dried and candied fruit, nuts and spices, the Christmas cake has epitomised the British festive season for centuries. Originating in the 17th century as a cake made for Easter, and using some of the Christmas pudding mixture with the addition of eggs and flour, it was so tasty that it was added to the festive menu.
Traditionally, Christmas cake is eaten on Twelfth Night (5th January), a date that has marked the end of the Christmas season since the Middle Ages. Twelfth Night parties were wildly popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, with game-playing and a great deal of eating and drinking (sound familiar?), and the Christmas cake was the centrepiece of the table.
A rather marvellous lost tradition was the addition of a dried pea and a dried bean to the cake mixture. During the party, the man whose slice contained the bean was elected King for the night, while a Queen was found with a pea. For the rest of the evening, the King and Queen ruled supreme. Even if they were normally servants, their temporarily exalted position was recognised by all, including their masters.
This year, Sainsbury’s are offering their take on the classic with the Taste the Difference Bow Cake, a showstopper centrepiece perfect for gatherings.
This sumptuously fruity, all-butter cake is loaded with juicy raisins and sultanas, plump glace cherries and split almonds for added crunch. It is infused with cognac for a rich, festive flavour, then beautifully hand decorated with an elegant bow and gold leaf.
Why not follow the Yorkshire tradition of enjoying your Christmas cake with a slice of tangy cheese? Try the Taste the Difference Cheese Selection for the perfect accompaniment.
But for an irresistibly decadent snack, crack open a late-bottled vintage port to accompany a slice of dense, fruity Bow Cake and some crumbly Stilton.
Go on, it’s Christmas.