‘We used the same cake topper every year – until one year my mother couldn’t find Santa Claus’

My most treasured memory: Catherine Fulvio

Catherine Fulvio: The tradition has been passed to my daughter, who takes great pride in this important job

Catherine Fulvio: The tradition has been passed to my daughter, who takes great pride in this important job

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Throughout Food Month people will share with us their most treasured food memory.

Christmas is always a special family time here at Ballyknocken and there have been many traditions over the years, from plucking turkeys, to playing board games, setting up traps for Santa and, of course, decorating the Christmas cake.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food

I feel Christmassy from the minute the pudding ingredients are bought. Of course the stirring of it was, and still is, a major event with each family member making a wish. We now extend the habit to students in the cookery school.

Once the puddings were made it was time for the cake. The memory of making and soaking the cake weekly in the farmhouse kitchen is great and is a tradition I hope I have passed on to my children ... time will tell.

Finally, the decorating – that was the fun bit. To this day we decorate our Christmas cakes here at Ballyknocken and have a dedicated children’s class with some great edible gift ideas (stocking meringues, snowmen cookies and reindeer cupcakes) that are easy enough to replicate at home.

Icing the cake

But one of the fondest memories I have is the of icing the Christmas cake, which was done the week of Christmas. We used the same cake topper every year – until one year my mother couldn’t find Santa Claus and there was panic in the house.

My mother, who loved her gadgets, had drawers and presses stuffed with all sorts of “handy” items to assist in the cooking process, and squashed between the pineapple peeler and the electric potato peeler was the lonely Santa cake topper, passed down from grandmother.

Celebrations abounded and we now remember it as the year we lost Santa Claus. Thankfully, the tradition has been passed to my daughter, who takes great pride in this important job.

Catherine Fulvio is a food writer, brand ambassador for Siúcra and owner of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School.

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