Posts Tagged ‘ Christmas cake ’

Too much convenience


Watching television last night, I saw several adverts which disturbed me for different reasons, often because they didn’t seem to do a very good job of explaining what it was they were actually advertising.  The worst offender, though, was one where the product was very clearly identified.  I was just perturbed that the product existed.

The product in question is a Prepared Ingredients pack from Waitrose for Delia Smith’s Christmas cake recipe.  Now, Delia’s recipes are greatly loved in this nation, and many Christmas tables will include at least one Delia offering (I remember the year when there was a national cranberry shortage just because she had championed them, meaning everyone rushed out to get a supply).  And almost without exception, a home celebrating Christmas will have a Christmas cake, whether home-made or shop-bought.  Either is fine.  Home-made takes longer, of course, but ultimately tends to taste better.  Shop-bought is ideal for those with limited cooking facilities or very little time on their hands.  But the idea of a packet mix for Christmas cake (they even pre-soak the fruits in brandy) really unsettled me.  When the people I was with found this amusing, I realised I needed to work out why I didn’t like the idea.

I should perhaps say up front that I have never made Christmas cake, as I have never been the person responsible for Christmas in any household (if you see what I mean).  I have made many other cakes of all shapes and sizes, but have never invested that extra time which Christmas cakes require in preparing the ingredients and then topping up the alcohol levels over the weeks running up to the big day.  So maybe I have no business commenting on this mix.  But if I may be permitted to have an opinion, it seems that a packet mix for this particular cake misses the point somewhat.  It is *supposed* to be an effort, a big production and an ongoing process.  Pre-weighed ingredients I don’t mind too much, though part of the joy of cake-making is in deviating from the recipe, in substituting one ingredient for another or deciding that adding a particular flavouring or a bit more flour would improve things this time around.  A packet mix would seem to discourage the personal touch.  The thing that really tipped me over the edge was the pre-soaked fruit, a truly strange thing.  If you don’t have time to do the things like pre-soaking the fruit, you probably don’t have the time to mix and bake the cake either.  And everyone will understand if you have to buy a cake.  It may be strange (in fact, I’m fairly certain it is strange), but this half-way house does not seem like the best of both worlds, it seems like a strange compromise.  I wouldn’t look down on anyone that chooses this option, but I’d have thought that anyone pre-disposed to make their Christmas cake would have no problem preparing, weighing and measuring their ingredients.  Perhaps not.  But it seems I need to avoid ad breaks on ITV for the next six weeks, as repeated exposure to the advert may cause me to go into permanent rant mode.  And nobody would want that.

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