It is that time of year again; and as Jamaican households prepare for the festive celebrations of Christmas, the kitchens invariably harbor a lingering and pleasant scent of sugar and spice and everything nice.
The food part of Christmas is oh so important and getting the flavors just right is an art envied by many, but the final products are always enjoyed by all.
There are Christmas ‘food customs’ that are strictly adhered to as the season springs, and this tradition of fixing plenty food with beverages to match, follows Jamaicans wherever their chosen adventurous roads lead them, throughout the world.
Christmas is not a one day celebration in Jamaica, as the yuletide spirit starts at the top of December and lingers through till the first week of January, with non-stop rolling out of delectable eats. Sharing the tasty dishes with friends and neighbors is a must and some folk look at it as showing off the culinary expertise of each household in a pleasant and joyful way.
There has been an unspoken rule however, when it comes to the Jamaican Christmas cake. Everyone bakes the same kind of cake, but no-one likes to pass the recipe on. All Christmas cake bakers tend to like their own unique flavor, but that buck stops here this year.
Yardflex will be sharing and we want you to also pass the information on after you have baked your delicious Jamaican Christmas cake and made the other scrumptious goodies laid out for you here.
Jamaican Christmas Cake
450 grams soft margarine
450 grams dark sugar
4-6 medium eggs
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg
6 tablespoons browning
3 cups red wine
1 teaspoon vanilla
450 grams mixed fruits (currants, prunes, raisins, cherries)
Soak mixed fruit in alcohol for at least a month before baking. Longer soaking gives a stronger cake. Be sure to make a virgin – non-alcoholic cake for the kids and non drinkers.
1 cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
2 gradually beat in eggs one at a time
3 combine flour, mixed spice, baking powder, nutmeg
4 divide the flour mixture in three and liquid in two
5 fold the flour mixture into the cream mixture alternately with wine and fruits
6 stir in almond flavoring and vanilla
7 pour into a greased and lined baking tin. Bake for 1 1/2 hours at 180 degrees Celsius
8 allow cake to cool
Eggnog is a favorite drink during Christmas in Jamaica. An alternative to buying it at the grocery store, is making it from scratch yourself like this:
2 cups Milk
1 cup Sugar
½ tsp. Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
1 tbsp. White Rum
Separate yolks from eggs in a bowl and beat until the color changes, by this time the beaten yolks should be thick and fluffy. Before you beat the egg whites remove the little white things (we call them eyes) with a fork from the egg. We do this to cut down on the raw smell from the eggs. Now beat the whites until smooth.
Gradually add the rest of the ingredients to the yolks while beating. When you’re finished, put everything in an electric blender and beat again on the lowest cycle for 1 minute.
Chill and serve in small glasses with a pinch of nutmeg or add a touch of vanilla ice cream before chilling, for thickness.
One of the most delicious healthy and refreshing drinks served every Christmas in Jamaica, is Sorrell. Drawn like tea, this drink is made from the Sorrell plant that is beet red and filled with nutrients.
Jamaican Sorrel Recipe
5 to 6 (1-inch) slices ginger
1 cup dried sorrel leaves
1 tablespoon cloves
Red wine sherry, optional
Let cut ginger sit for 2 to 3 hours. The longer it sits the stronger it becomes. Boil ginger in 2 quarts of water. Once water is boiling, add sorrel and cloves. Boil for a few minutes then let steep for 12 to 24 hours. Strain and add sugar and cloves. Alcohol can be added if desired, to taste. Chill and serve.