The bit of kit that proved the most difficult to buy was the cake tin – a pretty essential bit of kit really. We visited store after store, from Walmart to local specialist cookery shops; traipsed around downtown and the out of town shopping complexes, as well as endless searching online. We found plenty of tins, but none were the size we required – a deep 8-inch round tin - all were 9-inches in diameter and were way too shallow. In the end, we returned to the local store where we had originally seen one and balked at the price, but it seemed to be the only deep tin in the whole of Montreal, so we had to give in and pay the money.
Last year in Munich, mum came to visit in October and so was entrusted with the task of bringing out treacle, and soft brown sugar (I have only ever found demerera sugar in the German supermarkets – an American friend and I once got excited when at a café where they looked to have soft brown sugar on the tables, but on closer inspection it tasted totally different, almost bitter). With no mixed spice to hand, I had to make my own blend, so had to buy whole packets of each spice just to get half a teaspoon of the mixture. The jar of ground cloves was never opened again.
In Sevilla finding the ingredients for our first married Christmas cake was easy, as they were bought in Morrisons in Gibraltar. The oven was the main hurdle – it seemed to have one option no matter what temperature you set it to, and that was: Burn. But there was no use complaining to the landlord, as when we had first moved in they showed us the oven as something to marvel, as apparently not house has one.
That was us told.
In Montreal, we haven’t had any well-timed UK visitors, and there doesn’t seem to be a Morrison’s supermarket hiding around the corner, so we have had to adapt. Treacle has been replaced with molasses, mixed spice, sultanas have replaced both the raisins and currants as they were the only fruit I could find, the flour is a guess: ‘All Purpose’ – is that self raising or plain? – I have assumed it is plain and, as there was not much else to choose from had to just go with it and hope all turned out OK. I got confused and bought two pots of powdered nutmeg – one of the spices I hardly ever use. I have a feeling a nutmeg recipe search will be on the cards in the near future. We had to get the brandy from SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec or in English: Québec Alcohol Corporation), the government-owned corporation that trades alcohol within Quebec. A limited selection of wine and beer is available from the supermarket, but this is the main place to buy alcohol in Québec.
Still, eventually it was made and put in the wonderfully lined tin and placed in the oven. It appeared to be ready quite quickly, so I am hoping it will be cooked in the middle. It smelt OK.