Sunday, 20 November 2011

Remember Mother's Christmas Cake's, every year made two

It's getting to that time of year when the Christmas cakes have got to made, and mother made hers without any scales, it was all done by rule of thumb,  as was her Christmas puddings and pickles jams and almost all her baking and cooking picked up from her mother over the years
Remember Mother's Christmas Cake's, every year made two,
Mixed it in a huge bowl, with many fingers helping drew,
Into the bowl put ingredient, measured by rule of thumb,
This all gets depleted mixing, a sticky mess become.

In her busy schedule of work, mother always found time to make her Christmas cake, but while she was at it she always made two. From her experience over the years, the ingredients got depleted in the mixing bowl, as four of us would be drooling and wanting a taste. When her back was turned it would be a big finger full or if we were lucky a big spoon full go missing, and what one had the others were all the more determined to get their share.

The mixing bowl was usually the big bowl off a wash stand set, where there was a big jug as well used in the days before bathrooms and wash basins. Its volume would be about three gallons, (fifteen litres if your still classed as a youngster) and it would be a good half full. All the currant, raisins and sultanas would be put in the basin late the night before and some spirits ( usually a bit of brandy but not very much as it had got to last all Christmas) would be poured over them to soak for the night. You can guess why at night.

The next day the table would be cleared soon after breakfast and all the rest of the ingredients set out. Among these was black treacle and this soon had finger dipped in, but as we knew father had a forty five gallon drum of this in the shed for the cattle, we used to take the small bung out, for it to slowly oozed out enough onto our fingers before the bung was bunged back in.

As ingredient were added two or three wooden spoons were stirring and tasting all the way through, then mother doled what was left into two big cake tins lined with paper. These were then put in the oven to cook, after a while drawing them out and testing them with a metal knitting needle, if it came out clean they were done.

They were then knocked out onto wire rack to cool, with quite a few burnt sultanas and currant on the outer edges just prime for pikeing, these soon got tidied up.

Just before making the marzipan the cakes were levelled up, the top sliced off to give smooth surface to ice, this again was a chance to taste the cake, then the marzipan was rolled out and stuck on with jam. Icing was mix and slapped on the top and smoothed down the sides to the cake boards. She stood no chance to smooth it flat and posh with so many helpers, so they were dabbed and called a snow scene. On Christmas Eve she mixed a bit more icing and coloured it red and piped a wobbly Merry Christmas across the middle.

I Remember Mother's Christmas Cake (‘s)

Remember Mother's Christmas Cake's, every year made two,
Mixed it in a huge bowl, with many fingers helping drew,
Into the bowl put ingredient, measured by rule of thumb,
This all gets depleted mixing, a sticky mess become.

Lined the tins with brown paper, popped them in the oven,
Couple of hours a needle test, on this she's often done
Lift them out when they're cooked; bump them out the tin,
Set them on a cooling rack, dark and rich within.

Us kids were so impatient, had to taste one when it's cooled,
Usually it was following day, four of us round it drooled,
This is why she'd made two, got to keep abreast,
Hid the other, we never knew where, it had got to ‘rest'.

Brought it out Christmas Eve, to marzipan and rough ice,
No use doing it sooner, as about the house are four big mice,
Snow scene's what she called it, a snow man on the top,
Greetings n' Merry Christmas, in wobbly writing she would pop.

At tea time Christmas day, it would suddenly appear,
Gasps of delight from us, when she cut it we would cheer,
Not much more could we take, full of turkey, trifle and mince pies,
So cake it lasted longer, aaaall -- over -- at -- last she sighs.


Father always liked to do a bit of carpentry, and had his tools and workshop in a loft; one of his achievements was a trailer to go behind his Austin car. The different people who saw this in the making were sniggering behind his back thinking he would never get it out of the door. But this was carefully thought out in his drawings on a piece of cardboard.

The axle and wheels and mud guards (fenders to them who live a long way off our shores) were all removed and squoze out onto the yard. It was designed to take pigs and sheep to market, and also to deliver potatoes, round to customers in town. The trailer lasted about three cars, all second hand cars, but they did a lot of rough work, particularly when we were all in it at the same time.

However on the months running up to Christmas he kept his workshop closed and he went working in there at nights, making toys for Father Christmas to deliver on Christmas Eve

I Remember Father made Toys for Christmas

Father always used to make, all our Christmas toys,
Make them in his workshop, and hid them from us boys,
Made them out of bits of wood , laying about the farm,
On a big flat piece of ply, that was for the yard and barn.

Walls and gates and hedges, painted bit of wood they were,
That was all we needed now, so we could fields alter,
A couple of cows some sheep and pigs and hens,
Mother had to buy these, he made them little pens.

Saw and chop and whittle a log, till tractor it took form,
Fix on wheels he saved for this, painted colour that was norm,
Drawbar on the back as well, a trailer it to pull,
That he'd made a matching set, hiding place was full.

Sometimes they were too big, had to keep outside,
Trolleys with old pram wheels, all of us could ride,
Someone had to push of course, unless we found a bank,
Seating it was a little crude, it was just a nice smooth plank.

The toys he made were very strong, and a long time lasted,
Each of us we played with them, till next younger one he wanted,
His turn to help to ware it out, and pass it on again,
Then it was the turn of wood worm, to chew to dust the frame.


If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.
Bruce Barton

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