Outside it is wild and windy, the windows look like they have cried for a week and the trees are throwing themselves about in a tortuous dance. Foul weather has been promised all weekend, so there is nothing for it - time to retreat to the kitchen and fill the house with scents of baking and Indian spices.
Eldest follows almost immediately, rolling up his sleeves and reaching for the weighing scales.
One kilogramme of mixed fruits rattle into the bowl - we resist reaching in to eat the jewel colours.
In goes the butter and brown sugar, Eldest taking photos for me - he is used my ways and often picks up the camera before I do.
Soon the room fills with a heady sweet scent of a very well matured Damson Gin - I can't claim to have made this particular rich fruity rocket fuel - GG from 'Blue and Yellow Morning' kindly gave it to me a few years ago and I have sloshed generous amounts into festive cakes since then. Sadly this year was it's last slosh. I breath in the final vapours before I rinsing it out. Yum.
Stirring is Eldest's forte - he wields a wooden spoon deftly around the fruity mix, stirring the melted butter and syrupy sugar. The warm sweet smell makes Himself come and investigate the baking. He adores fruit cake, the fruitier, the darker, the richer - the better. He hung around hopefully but on noticing a brief break in the weather - rushed outside to his car restoration project.
Once melted and mixed and simmering, the next stage was mine to do - I was really looking forward to this part. Making the spice mix for the cake.
Cardamom and cumin.
Ginger and nutmeg.
Cinnamon and whole black pepper corns.
All ground as finely as I could,
My nose twitched and the kitchen bloomed with the heady spicy scent.
Eldest had weighed the flours and it amused me that he carefully excavated a 'nest' in which to place the spices. Once again he stirred - this time whisking the dry ingredients ready for the cooling fruit.
Eggs beaten and stirred into the fruit, flour added it was time for the final magical step.
The stirring for a wish.
The thoughts for peace.
The empathy for France.
It is something that an essential part of the creating of the cake,
something that I have done since for as long as I can remember.
From being very small and needing to stand on a stool to reach the bowl, to being a nonchalant teenager pretending it was 'old hat' but in reality still delighting in the annual stir, to now, doing it with my children and my man. I hope that my boys will carry this custom on. Thanks Mom - a good family tradition.
Eldest and I pressed the cashew nuts alternatively on to the cake or in to our mouths....
Then, three hours of gentle cooking later -
Himself who had been salivating at the thought of fruit cake was quite crestfallen at the sight of this one being wrapped up and safely stored away.
After making soup for lunch, I started again.
And quickly made a simple 'emergency fruit cake'
just in time for afternoon tea as we sat by the fire,
watching the rain streaking the windows and listening to the wind rattling down the chimney.
Recipe for the first rich festive (now hidden from sight) cake - HERE
Recipe for second lighter emergency (now eaten) cake - HERE