Most of the following is a true story.

This weekend I decided to make a Christmas cake. This was partly because I had been playing Warcraft III for a few hours after a few more hours coding E2. The obvious thing to do at that point would be to take a screen break, so I did, and decided to make Christmas Cake. Now you know why, here’s how.

I started in the way all good geeks start a recipe, by going to Google and searching. Having found a recipe, a quest was begun. High was the sun, and great was the joy in our hearts as I carefully turned the recipe into HTML and started on my quest of the kitchen, seeking – in true quest style – a number of objects which – when assembled correctly according to an ancient and mysterious scroll – would provide something of beauty and wonder when cooked for three hours at gas mark two. Within moments the first part of my quest was completed, and the saga was already deepening in traditional style, for though most of the items were within easy reach, several would require a trek though dark and dangerous areas to the mystical land of Sai’Zberries. After a small sub quest to recruit fellow adventurers to my grand romantic cause, we kitted up with the Fleeces of +4 Warmth, and Bags of Carrying before venturing off into the cold, cold lands of Ca’mebrid’e, leaving messages for loved ones should we never return.

Of the journey to the far lands of Sai’Zberries many tales are told, from the wandering monsters with +5 “Sticky Fingers” bonuses against Girlfriends, to the subquests of the Crossing of the Road. Suffice to say that after a long and tiring journey, finally our goal was in sight. But our journey was not over yet, for the entrance to the lands of Sai’Zberries was guarded by an evil spirit dressed in the furs of animals that had never seen this realm and the blood-red livery of all his kind, the demon “Zan’tar” stood bribing young children to his dark religion.

Awaiting a distraction in the form of a large family with many potential prey for his dark quest, we slipped into the store unseen. Perhaps another day we should have saved the children, but today they sacrificed their souls so that my cake could live, and that is enough.

The Level 10 merchant who owns the town of Sai’Zberries was doing good good business this cold winters day, but we shall brush over the quest within the store, tis a tale for another day. Suffice to say that whilst all the components of my quest were to hand, my fellow adventurer would have to seek out another merchant. This quest completed, we left easily – Zan’tar having taken his fill for the day – and trekked home, happy in the knowledge of a subquest completed.

I began the recipe, not totally trusting it. Anything that told me to boil something containing a kg of mixed-fruit deserved to get my distrust, but correct it was, and the recipe went fine. It was taking longer than I expected though, and all was not well in the land of the geekhouse for I did have another quest today, and verily was it a time dependant one, and so I was forced to abandon the cake in favour of the meet, if you see what I mean. A few hours later – about five hours, all told – I returned to the cake to find that the almonds were not as crisp as before, the shine slightly dampened by being dried out on the stove of life, and the cake generally looking very much as if it had been left to stew in it’s juices for a few hours. Nevertheless, truly optimistic to the end, I put it in the oven…

…then took it out again, realising that I’d have to get up at 4am to take it out again, and – more importantly – that I hadn’t finished putting the ingredients. Like the flour. For example. And the spices, for another.

At this point I swore. Lots.

Once more, bright was the morning following. Not that I saw it, after fielding a parental phone call I went back to the comfort of the duvet. Heating in the Geekhouse isn’t working at the moment and so leaving the duvet was a slow process. Slowly and with due care and attention to all recipes and stuff – and gradually coming to the conclusion that this cake was probably beyond being a total success – I added the flour, Mixed spice, Nutmeg, baking powder and everything else and began to stir.

At this point, it is traditional in some families to make a wish. I made a wish. I wished to all goodness that this cake didn’t fail. The gods answered. I carefully lined a cake tin. Again. I carefully placed it in the oven. Again.

I remembered to turn the oven on at this point, which I counted as a personal success.

I waited an hour, and turned down the heat, as prescribed in the Quest Runes.

I waited a further three hours, and removed the cake from the oven. Carefully placed it to cool. Lifted it up…

There is something special about the loose bottomed cake tin. It’s especially designed such that the base of it lifts up, allowing cake to be removed from tin easily, whilst not allowing the chef to pick up the cake in safety. Thus:

Diagram of a loose bottomed cake tin

So imagine my surprise when the cake fell out of the bottom of the cake tin and broke off into many squidgy pieces onto the counter, like the rebirth of an elder being. The gods had indeed answered my wish, They had said “No”.
At this point not only am I running out of swear words, but also patience and time, so I shove the lot back into the tin, and back into the oven. One more hour, Gas Mark one. The cake comes out of the oven. The cake comes out of the cake tin. So far, so good. Now it’s sitting there, glaring at me, and I don’t know if it’s any good.

The decision is made, I shall make another cake next weekend, and in the meantime, I shall stab this elder being of a Christmas cake with knives until it bleeds cherries.

Anyone want a slice?