Thursday, June 26, 2008

The cakes of solstice

Fruitcakes – who ever thought that such a simple piece of baking could elicit such strong responses in people? While some love a rich, wintry Christmas cake, others are less keen on them. The role of citrus peel or glace fruit in a classic cake stirred up passions. Don’t get me started on the topic of Parisienne essence that we’ve had at Chez FoodNazi. Love them or leave them – the Solstice Cake discussions, on and off line, have been a joy for me to read.

Oddly, I fall into the camp of ‘not a huge fan’ of the Christmas cake but for Solstice it is about a whole heap more than a sweet treat to have with a cuppa or round off a meal. I enjoyed the reconnection with my childhood, the physicality of stirring a massive amount of macerated fruit through a batter and the smell, oh the aroma of the cake baking was almost enough for me. To be honest I haven’t even eaten mine yet, as my recipe suggests letting the cake sit for a couple of months before devouring. Though that is taking some restraint in my household.

With the shortest and longest days of the year occurring in the different hemispheres there has been a sterling effort by entrants embracing the task. The trick has been making it your own. Uncoupling the cake from the tradition of Christmas seems to have freed up a lot of cooks to claim the genre for themselves. Each story has been a joy to read. I hope you like them too.

The Solstice Cake Round-Up

Lucy of “Nourish-me” in Melbourne made a most delightful fruit and marzipan cake. The inclusion of marzipan on the inside certainly peaked a lot of excitement. The first one was so good, she’s made a couple more since!

Din, of “No Eggs or Nuts” fame, has worked around the household’s dietary requirements to make a yeasted, egg-free Saffron cake. Another Melbournite with a long standing family tradition of marking winter solstice with a pudding, it was impressive to see the cake get a look in as well.

Still in Melbourne, a delightful newcomer to the blogging world Doc Witch high priestess of “The Dark Side of the Broom” has knocked up a Nigella inspired dark and sultry fruitcake. As a recently diagnosed coeliac, the cake turned out perfectly by substituting the regular flour for a gluten-free mix.

Also in this chilly city is Johanna from “Green Gourmet Giraffe” who managed to overcome her ambivalence towards fruit cakes with a large helping of chocolate. The people from Sunbeam would be proud to see their recipe updated in her Chocolate Fruitcake.

The chocolate theme continues with Nora in Sydney from “Life is a Smorgasbord”. She has created a rich, chocolate Drambuie fruitcake for solstice. Chocolate and liqueur has always been a winning combo in my book!

Bravely representing England in this event is Lysy from "Munchkin Mail". She has gone all summery with a Lemon solstice cake. As the only Northern Hemisphere entrant Lysis had a taste of how some of us feel about heavy fruit cakes at the height of summer and has opted for a Nigella inspired number with the fruit on the outside.

Last but not least is my own offering, reviving Alison Holst's great 70’s kiwi classic. A rich fruitcake featuring a tropical twist, my entry is a Pineapple Solstice Cake.

Honorable Mentions:

To the following Melbourne bloggers who got into the spirit of all things solstice but didn't give away their secret recipes or formally enter. They've taken great pics, so don't forget to check out their posts.

Suse whipped up a rich and dark number and celebrated the longest night outdoors with friends, family and very pretty lanterns.

Duncan teased us mercilessly with the a macaroon creation (I want some!)

Anna made the family’s secret recipe fruitcake.

It has been a joy to see people inspired by the theme. Long may the solstice tradition continue.

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Blogger docwitch said...

Yay! Yum! Not only is this a great way to meet other fruit cakes, it's also a wonderful way to discover some great blogs too.

This was such a lot of fun to do AOF.

3:59 pm  
Blogger Nora B. said...

Choc and fruit cake seems to be more common than I realise! Thanks for hosting.

9:10 am  
Blogger Lucy said...

So many to choose from - I suspect that the tradition will be kept well and truly alive.

What about a summer solstice cake like Lysy's gorgeous, sunny one come Decmember?

Love the round-up. So pleased the ays are lengthening (even if only fractionally...)!

10:03 am  
Blogger Lucy said...

Days...not ays...sheesh! Fingers too slow this morning.

10:03 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Ah summer solstice - it is just that most of us are so busy at that time of year with every person and her dog demanding xmas catch ups. Will see where the busy-ness barometer is swinging closer to the time.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

lovely cakes - it is wonderful to celebrate the winter solstice as our southern year needs more to break it up than all that christmas and summer in Dec/Jan

I love the idea of heavenly cakes patiently maturing all over melbourne (and the Southern hemisphere) around this time of the year - just seems more right than at Christmas.

12:24 am  

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