Ushering in Christmas cheer with cake-mixing

Cake mixing ceremony at Sarova Mara camp where tourists and staff mix a cake that will be baked during Christmas. [John Tiapukel, Standard]

As tourism witnesses a high in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, with lodges and camps fully booked, an intriguing tradition has emerged.

In anticipation of the upcoming festivities, some lodges have taken a unique approach by aging Christmas cakes, a meticulous process that begins 30 days prior to the celebration.

Sarova Mara Camp on Saturday treated its guests to the joyous cake-mixing ceremony where hotel staff, tourists and other attendees had a chance to take part in mixing exercise.

The name; “Sarova Mara camp, Heaven on Earth” inscribed on the fruits were meticulously arranged, and a range of spices blended in. Alcohol is then poured onto the blending surface. It is carefully mixed into the ingredients, resulting in a transformation of the dough’s colour.

Sarova Hotels group pastry chef Sanjit Gupta says the practice gave its clients, management and staff a chance to participate in the preparation of Christmas cake.

Gupta said the ingredients include a variety of dried fruits, nuts, and spices.

He added: “One of the highlights of this tradition is the addition of alcohol (such as rum, brandy, wine, whisky andgin), which acts as a preservative and enhances the flavour of the cake.

He said the 100kg cake mixing is given a margin of one month and will be remixed every seven days before it’s baked in the first week of December and will be ready in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Hotel manager Nicholas Maina, said the afternoon ceremony, which was graced by Maasai elders was not just a celebration of tradition but is an intimate family affair that signifies love and hard work.

“In our case here, we are celebrating because of our Sarova family, members of staff, our guests, the surrounding community, our stakeholders and media partners who we invited today to participate in the mixing ceremony have helped us reach where we are now,” said Maina.

Sarova Mara camp engaged in a joyous cake-mixing ceremony where hotel staff, tourists and other attendees had a chance to dive hands-on into the mix, blending an array of over 30 dry ingredients, dry fruits, honey, 25 litres of various liquors skillfully blended by hand. [John Tiapukel, Standard]

The event was graced by warden Daniel Tunai Kijabe, in charge of the Sekenrani sector, who cut the tape to signify the kickoff of the festive season and preparation of the cake.

Kijabe said the game reserve is fully booked for the end and New Year festivities, with all facilities receiving over 100 per cent bookings.

“We welcome all our visitors to Maasai Mara, and as the Narok county government led by governor Patrick Ole Ntutu, top-notch security has been put in place to make sure that all visitors enjoy their stay with us,” said Kijabe.

The tradition has its roots in the late 17th century and is often associated with the preparation of Christmas cakes or puddings. The cake-mixing tradition is a ritual popularly followed in many parts of the world, particularly in countries that celebrate Christmas.

According to Maina, the event marks the onset of the festive season and is typically held sometime in November. The practice originated in Europe, where it was customary to make a rich, fruity Christmas cake or pudding to mark the holiday season.

“For us, it was unique and colourful as Participants were treated with Maasai traditional dances before everybody gathered around a large mixing table, and each person took a turn to mix the ingredients using their hands.”

“It is believed that this communal activity brings good luck and happiness. The mixture is then left to marinate for several weeks before being baked,” added Maina.

He said it is often turned into a festive gathering with music, food, and drinks. Participants are provided with aprons, chef hats, and gloves, turning the event into a fun and interactive experience.

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