Tradition helps to bring meaning to our celebrations and bond us with those we love. It lends a certain "holiday spirit" that nurtures us during various times of the year, and helps give a sense of belonging in our family and community.
I absolutely love traditions. The making of new traditions, the bringing together of different family and cultural traditions, and nurturing the traditions that have been created before me.
And now we get to create the traditions of Voyageurs Bakehouse.
One of the traditions we’re starting at the Bakehouse this Christmas season has been a tradition in Ben’s family for a long time - Sonja’s Christmas Dundee Cake. Ben’s mom, Sonja, has enjoyed this cake for years as part of her Swiss family tradition.
Although this cake is a tradition for Ben's family, it has a special meaning to me as well.
It started in 2014. Ben and I were living in Malaysia and were packing up our bags to get ready to come back to the U.S. for Christmas with my (Parins) family. Right as we were saying our farewells to Ben's parents (who also lived in Malaysia at the same time), Sonja exclaims, "Oh wait! Don't forget the Christmas cake!!" She runs into the kitchen and back out with a beautifully wrapped cake and places it in my hands.
I think to myself, "How the heck am I going to fit that in my bag. I'm already at max weight!!"
I had no idea about the tradition of Sonja's Christmas cake. At the moment when thinking, "Do we really need to lug a 5-pound fruit cake with us to the U.S.?"... I didn't realize what a special cake this would become in my life and the importance of continuing a long-held Christmas tradition.
On Christmas Day I had the answer to my question... YES - this cake was 100% worth lugging it back to the U.S., declaring at customs, and the long explanation of why we were bringing a cake from Malaysia to the U.S.
What I know now is that this is a beautiful and delicious cake that’s enjoyed throughout the days around Christmas time. It’s not overly rich and moist like my prior memory of a "Christmas cake". It's lighter and more crumbly in texture.
Made with a mix of boozy dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, figs, apricots, glace cherries, and orange peel) that have been soaked in Brandy, this cake needs 3 weeks to mature. Once baked, Sonja's version of a Scottish Dundee cake gets "fed" weekly with brandy. This gives the crumb of the cake a perfectly moist texture and helps it to develop a beautiful flavor.
I was seriously surprised when we opened up this cake on Christmas Eve. Since Ben grew up with this cake every year, he knew just how delicious it was. It's eaten at all times of the day around the holidays... breakfast included. 😃
I'll always remember this particular Christmas, as it was the beginning of the Christmas Cake coming into my life, and the beginning of many Christmases to come with Ben.
With a special marriage proposal on Christmas Day, it was the official year we began the next chapter together and the integration of our families and cultures.
The Christmas Dundee Cake is a special symbol of the creation of a new tradition.
And now, this story and tradition will be passed on to our children, and it's being shared with our Voyageurs family. You'll most certainly see this cake every year for years to come at the Bakehouse.