It’s become a tradition of mine to make a Christmas pudding and a Christmas cake during October half term. It means I can justify a day in the kitchen – my favourite kind of day – while feeling like I’m investing in the future.
I love the smell of Christmas whispering its way into my consciousness. The Christmas baking day marks the start of the countdown to my favourite time of year: to the comfort; to the ritual; to the festivity. Smells of ginger, fruit and brandy mingle with spices and sugar as the pudding steams and the cake bakes, lacing the air with warmth and anticipation. Most of my favourite smells are kitchen-related, and half of those can be found in the Christmas baking day: the smell of a cake in the oven; warm spices; dried fruit soaking in alcohol; fresh ginger; citrus zest; softened butter; thick treacle… all these combine to give a fragrance so rich and deep that I want to curl up in it. Christmas, for me, represents a unique alchemy of memory and future, and the smells of the Christmas baking day take me simultaneously back to childhood and forward to holidays, to a period of rest and indulgence with family and friends. There are few smells so inviting.
Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)