Sweets & Desserts

Food for the Gods and the accidental Christmas cake

UPDATE on December 15, 2008: Click here for a much better recipe for food for the gods.

As early as 2004, I have been talking about baking an all-Filipino fruit cake. I remember mentioning it to Jet David during a pre-Christmas EB at their Antipolo house. I wasn’t able to bake one that year. Nor the next. Nor the year after that. Glazed fruits always go out of stock before Christmas and the dream stayed as a dream. Until yesterday. I overbaked my all-Filipino version of Food for the Gods (caught up in my reading) and I was wondering how to salvage it. The solution consisted of a bamboo skewer, a pastry brush, cinnamon-flavored pancake syrup, Bacardi rum, a lot of guts and even more patience.

casaveneracion.com food for the gods

That’s how the baked Food for the Gods looked. Dry. Obviously.

casaveneracion.com Christmas cake

This is how The Accidental Christmas Cake looks today, less than 24 hours after I overbaked my Food for the Gods. I’ll give you the recipe for the Food for the Gods first then explain the miracle that happened after the accident.

Ingredients :

1 cup of unsalted butter (a 225-gram block)
3 eggs
1-3/4 c. of flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1-1/2 c. of dark brown sugar
1/4 c. of molasses
1 tsp. of vanilla
1-1/2 c. of raisins*
1 c. of cashew nuts**
1 c. of pili nuts**
1-1/2 c. of cinnamon-flavored pancake syrup
3/4 c. of rum

Bake the Food for the Gods:

Reserve 1 tablespoonful of flour.

Sift the remaining flour and baking powder together.

Roughly chop the nuts. Place in a bowl with the raisins. Add the reserved flour and toss to coat every bit. This will prevent the nuts and raisins from sinking to the bottom of the batter while the cake bakes.

Cream (i.e., beat vigorously) the butter and sugar until light (in texture, not in color). Stir in the eggs and molasses, and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing as you go. When the batter is smooth (it’ll be quite heavy like a brownie batter), stir in the vanilla. Add the raisins and chopped nuts and fold until well distributed. Pour into a 9×13-inch greased and lined baking pan and bake in a 170oC oven.

Okay, the original recipe (got it from my sister-in-law, Ava) says the baking time is 40-45 minutes. I use a convection oven so the baking time would be shorter than that. I removed the pan from the oven after 30 minutes of baking and the Food for the Gods was still overbaked. So, if you want to bake Food for the Gods, test it after about 20 minutes of baking and judge how much longer it needs to stay in the oven.

As soon as the pan came out of the oven, I knew I overbaked the darn thing. I cooled it for about 30 minutes while trying to figure out what miracle to perform.

Make The Accidental Christmas Cake:

I cut an inch off all four sides of the cake (all the too brown parts). I got two large sheets of foil, laid down one piece and placed the trimmed cake on it. Using a bamboo skewer, I pierced the cake in several places, going all the way through the bottom.

Next, I mixed together the cinnamon-flavored pancake syrup with the rum. Using a pastry brush, I brushed the mixture on the cake making sure that instead of dripping off the sides, the mixture was actually soaked by the cake via the skewer-created holes. Place the other sheet of foil on top, roll the edges to seal, and leave to soak.

You can’t make the cake absorb all that syrup and rum at once. I brushed the cake thrice yesterday with one-hour intervals and, by dinnertime, parts of the cake were still dry. So, I pierced it some more, the holes as close as half an inch apart. I brushed it with some more syrup and rum twice before going to bed. Then, this morning, twice more… well, until I consumed the syrup-rum mixture that I prepared and kept in a covered jar in the fridge.

It’s 1.29 p.m. and I just had a piece of my Accidental Christmas Cake after lunch. Oh my gosh, it was sooooo good. :razz:

Notes:

*The original recipe called for sultanas.

**I substituted cashew and pili nuts (plain roasted and salted, the kind you will find in most supermarkets) for walnuts.

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