Christmas baking starts right now if you want your cake to mature, your pud to age and your mince meat to mellow in time for the festive season. Just after the ghoulish madness of Halloween is the time to drag the glace cherries, currants, raisins, flour etc. out of the cupboard and start the Christmas prep.
Well this year Sian's Plan is taking a stand. No Christmas kick off for me yet. Here's why.
Cake Maker and Eater Syndrome
I suffer from the Cake Maker and Eater syndrome. This is a serious condition afflicted on homemakers around the world. Are you a Cake Maker, a Cake Eater or a Cake Maker and Eater?
If you are a Cake Maker, you're okay - carry on cooking. You bake for others who enjoy your creations and you have joy in seeing you work devoured. Just remember everything in moderation. Think you're a Cake Eater? Unfortunately there's not much I can do to help you out. At least you don't have a wooden spoon to bake all the bold goodies.
The Cake Maker and Eater - I have some advice for you.
Resist the urge to bake.
You are going to have some difficulties over the forthcoming period. Over Christmas and into January (there are all the leftovers to eat), we are going to chomp are way through an 8 inch Christmas Cake, a dozen mince pies, 1 lb pudding and a dozen sausage rolls. Why do we do it? Because we are Traditionalists. We trick ourselves into thinking that Christmas isn't Christmas, without Christmas baking.
During my mum's time, sweet Christmas treats were always homemade, lovingly stirred, carefully baked and wrapped in greaseproof until Christmas day. This was real treat and continued on in my youth. Christmas was all about making a wish whilst stirring the pud, icing the cake, frantically making mince pies on Christmas eve and receiving one small chocolate selection box from Santa. Such happy memories.
Now it's a different story. I woke up this morning to a tweet from my niece: 'Roses boxes 2 for £10 can't wait for Christmas'. And it doesn't stop there. It's boxes of cupcakes, three giant selection boxes a piece, oversized Toblerones and a tube of jellies eaten before breakfast. My boys have no interest in a slice of Christmas cake - pass the Ben and Jerrys instead.
Now, if I spend the time baking tasty traditional cakes, they will just get left to side. Or.... eaten by myself. You all know how much I champion the art of home-baking, but sometimes you just can't win. Let the family have the sweet indulgence, leave the baking and instead put your efforts into the Christmas dinner of all dinners - turkey with lemon and thyme stuffing, ham with spicy glaze, spicy crispy roast vegetables, perfectly cooked roast potatoes etc. You're going to get a whole lot more thanks for that than for 24 mini mince pies. And your waist will thank you for it.
This time around, I am going to close my ears against Christmas for a few more weeks. No recipes for a rich Christmas Cake or mature Christmas Pudding from me. I am going to fight the urge to bake... for now.
[Legal disclaimer: There is every possibility I may feel pressurised to bake nearer the time. You know... once the sparkling lights are switched on, the cinnamon smells start wafting over and everything has a hue of red (this is like a Coca Cola ad). Thank goodness for the 'Alternative Christmas Cake', the 'Christmas Sticky Pudding' and delicious mince pie recipes I have on reserve. I promise that if I cave, I'll share the recipes with you. In the meantime, Roses Hazelnut Swirl anyone?]