The Icing On The Sugee Cake
This was my virgin attempt at cake decorating with marzipan and ready-roll icing and, boy, was it a bitch. Still, it proved rather enjoyable for the first hour or so, as I experimented with various shades of red food colouring, hoping to turn the icing a deep Christmasy magenta for the ribbon on my gift-shaped cube of cake.
One bottle of "Christmas Red" turned my pristine white icing a bright orange, while another tube of regular red colouring rendered a lurid shade of pink. Defeated, I dripped an itsy bit of blue colouring into a new batch of icing and came out with the shade in the picture you see here.
It's a tad bar mitzvah-ish, I know, but it was the least offensive of the colours I experimented with. And what with all the Christmas chores left to be done, I couldn't indulge the exercise the hours it would have required. After fiddling with the quickly wilting icing (damn this tropical weather) and fashioning them into the best ribbons I could, I gave up and dug out the christmas cake ornaments I saved from all the log cakes I received last year. These proved far easier -- just stick 'em on the top of the cake. What's not to love?
What's underneath all that icing and marzipan, by the way, is the unctuous, buttery goodness of Sugee Cake. Sugee Cake to Eurasians in these parts of the world (usually of Portuguese descent) is what traditional fruit cake is to Anglo Saxons -- the celebratory confection of choice at Christmas, weddings and christenings. Dense with semolina and chopped or ground almonds (depending on the recipe), it looks like any other yellow cake, but is so much more. You'll gasp at the amount of butter it requires, and how much it shows. Just lay your sugee cake on a sheet of greaseproof paper and watch the fat form a small, oily pool. Okay, I exaggerate, but I assure you, I'm not far off. Be that as it may, the crumbly, nutty texture of this artery-clogging tradition is worth every stent you'll have to endure in your old age.
It was difficult finding the perfect recipe -- the old Eurasian women who harbour the best ones guard it with their lives. Eventually I found mine in the most unlikely of places: my old home economics recipe book from my secondary school days. It's not the best, but it'll do. I recently found another promising sounding one here.
I might try that after the festivities are done. Meanwhile, I'm all caked out and ready for more savoury delights - my mother's turkey stuffing, curry devil (which I'll make tomorrow), and all the other good stuff I'm expecting at my family's dinners which begin in earnest tomorrow. I can't wait.