Alice-Azania Jarvis: I've stirred up a treat – and I even saved some money

 

As you read this, I'm in Berlin (c/f last week on My First Ever Minibreak). But as I write it, I'm not. I leave tomorrow. My out-of-office is already enabled, my bag already packed. So much as I'd like to regale you with tales of affordable accommodation I can't. Yet.

In the meantime, something else: Christmas. No, not Christmas Gift Guides (done), or premature Christmas fever (still to come). But Christmas Cake. Because while I might abhor the artificial cheer that accompanies mid-October carols piping through shops, there's nothing I like more than making the Christmas cake weeks in advance. Leave it much later than the end of November – this year "Stir Up Sunday" falls on the 20th – and you might as well not bother. It won't have nearly enough time to soak up all the lovely booze you're going to feed it.

Which is why I've already made mine. I always make a Christmas cake. I love it: the stirring, casting a wish as you go, the baking, the gradual feeding and nurturing, the big unveil – and the eating, of course. It's not cheap, but it has, to me, always been worth it.

But my goodness, the waste! I've still got currants, somewhere, left over from last year. Buy all the ingredients and you'll end up spending far more that you would on a ready-made cake. Which is all very well if it's not the week before payday, with your bank balance looking perilously low.

It didn't help that, this year, I'd resolved to shake up my recipe a little. Instead of sticking to the usual trio of dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants), I'd resolved to introduce some novelties into the mix. I wanted figs. Prunes. Apricots. I wanted variety – and variety costs.

So I did something I would never usually have countenanced. I bought a ready-to-bake kit from Waitrose. A shortcut refusenik, this is virtual blasphemy in my kitchen. But a few factors won me over. First of all – no actual cooking had been done. Just measuring. So instead of wasting money on giant packs of fruit, flour, sugar and – the ultimate cupboard-clogger – treacle, I got just what I needed. Also, it was Delia, whose recipe I tend to use anyway – so the measurements conformed, and I could tinker with them as I pleased. Finally, it was only £10. Much less than the £20 I spent on ingredients last year. Best of all, I even had a few quid left over for figs, etc. So this year, my cake will be cheap and interesting. And what's more festive than that?

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Business Anaylst

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

    Senior Project Manager

    £60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Oil & Energy Business Anaylst

    £45000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Harrington Sta...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment