Sunday, 18 December 2011

Cluckenchickenhoffen Kuchen

Mrs Slocombe says...

It is the time of year when hens across the world make a cake to celebrate the festive season. It is called the 'Cluckenchickenhoffen Kuchen' and I have decided to share the recipe with you, the human beings, whom I believe have a similar tradition called, rather uninventively, the 'Christmas Cake.'

'What else is it supposed to be called?' I say. 'It's Christmas, it's a cake.'
'You, at the back,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'sit still and be quiet. You wouldn't interrupt Michel Roux Junior, would you, when he's in the middle of a moment of Masterchef creative genius?'
'Yes,' I say, 'in fact, I would. If only to tell him to stop bugging his eyes.'
'Point taken,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'but you can still hush your beak. I'm in charge of the blog today.'

I sit back and shut my beak. Actually, it's a relief to allow a guest blogger to take up the keyboard, so to speak, because I have far too much else to do, including catching up on a fortnight of sleep.

'So, here we are, the eighteenth of December or, as we call it in hen world, 'Cluckenchickenhoffen Kuchen Nachten Nuiten Night,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'And in order to begin the process of making your cluckenchickenhoffen kuchen, you will need a large bowl, a wooden spoon, a sieve, a pair of secateurs, a baking tin of a least three feet in diameter, and a large wine glass.'

'For measuring out a glassful of brandy for the cake?' I say.
'For measuring out a few glasses of wine for me, because I'm going to need them after I've finished this process,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Cluckenchickenhoffen Kuchen Nachten Nuiten Night is also the night of the year when nearly every hen I know gets completely blotto. There's a lot of singing,' she adds.

'Right,' I say.

'Firstly,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'pour yourself a glass of wine. Let's start how we mean to go on. Next, open your kitchen cupboards and see what you've got in them you can put in the cake.'
'You mean, there isn't a recipe?' I say.
'Recipe schmecipe,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'This cake is a bit like Lent. You throw in whatever you've got that needs using up because its best before day is nigh. You know, like in the song, 'A-weigh for to manger.'
'As in the French for 'to eat?' I say, because the written word is never very clear on pronunciation hints.
'Indeed,' says Mrs S. 'The last verse is very specific,' and she sings, 'Beer, mincemeat, four cheeses, salami, some hay, cloves, honey,a muffin, some ice cubes and steak.'
'Stop there,' I say. 'I think I get the idea.

'So, in the cupboards at the Manor I found the following to go in the cake,' says Mrs S, taking a sip or eight of her large glass of Pinot Grigio, 'half a jar of ginger balls in syrup, a box of quinoa, a jar of malt extract minus a tablespoon and a sachet of a cereal called Crunchy Nutty Honey Bits and Boulders...'
'That was a free sample,' I say.
'...and a can of crab meat, some red lentils, a jar of Much Malarkey Manor marmalade labelled Feb 2009, a half jar of pickled beetroot. I scraped off the mould,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'It'll be fine.'
'And that's all going in the cake?' I say.
'All except the beetroot,' says Mrs S. 'I'm saving that for the decoration. I may glace it first. Are there any acute accents on this keyboard?'
'Probably,' I say. 'Though I've yet to find them.'

Mrs Slocombe opens the jar of ginger balls in syrup. She takes a sniff, then imbibes of another glass of wine to stop her eyes watering.

'Take your bowl,' she announces, 'and add all the ingredients, excepting of the garnish of your choice.' And, between sips from wine bottle number two, she adds all the ingredients to the bowl. A fizz from some dubious chemical reaction follows.
'Is there a method for going about this mixing?' I say. 'Like creaming or whisking, or folding or sieving?'
'All of those,' says Mrs S. 'Solding and fisking and screaming and whifking. Spoon your wield as you wolly gel jish.'
'Okay,' I say. 'I'm glasdI clarified that.'
'Too me,' says Mrs S. 'Cheers!'

And then there is a pause whilst Mrs Slocombe steadies herself against the kitchen table and pours another glass of wine.

'Next,' she says, 'set fire, I mean, heat your oven to electri-gas hob mark twelve and treek waters. Line your taking bin with preef-goose pooper and pour your mixture into the tin as pickly as quossible to avoid acid burns.'

I decide to take over at this point, as Mrs Slocombe is looking decidedly green around the wattles.

'How long does one cooken the cluckenchickenhoffen kuchen for?' I say.
'I generally leave it in until koke smills the hitchen,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Is there any wore mine? Thish bottle eems a bit smempty.'
'I think you've had enough,' I say.
'I'll shay when I've nuff ahad,' says Mrs S. 'I'm not as drunk as some thinkle peep I am.'
'I think that's the point,' I say. 'You can't say.'

Mrs S raises a wing in the air as if she is about to make a strategic point. She goes a little boss-eyed and then drops to the floor like a concrete block.

I empty the contents of the baking tin into the bin, and use the oven to heat up a few mince pies, one of which I nibble upon with a cup of tea to the sound of Mrs Slocombe snoring under the table.

I think we've just experienced what a barber might call, a very close shave.

No comments: