There is one Christmas delight that brings Jamaican households together each year: the traditional fruit cake. And, for Jamaican actress Rosie Murray, it brought her through her weakest point.
Murray, a seasoned performer, suffered a major heart attack in 2017, just months after starting her baking business while executing her first production – Slice of Life – after which she has named her cakes, dropping the ‘i’ for Slyce of Life.
Despite the major setback, she persevered. During her recovery, it took Murray no time to get back into the kitchen, turning her passion into the sweet and savoury business it is today, offering a variety of treats, including sweet potato, cornmeal and bread pudding; fruit cake and carrot cake.
“A slice of my life is really a lot of different flavours, tones, accents and rhythms,” the actress, dancer, speaker and comedian shared, adding that being in the kitchen is just another spice or seasoning in her pot.
CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE
Murray’s Christmas cake fills nostrils with sweetness, rum and a mixture of special ingredients. It is steeped in tradition and has been passed down from one generation to the next.
Her mother, Doreen Murray, was a home economics teacher, known for her cake baking.
“When I was about eight years old, I asked her for a birthday cake,” Murray recalled. Instead of obliging to make one for her, Murray says her mother ushered her into the kitchen and she quickly learned the mouth-watering recipe.
“This is almost a spiritual thing for me because, every time I come into the kitchen, it’s like my mother is in here with me, passing on the instructions,” she said.
“I can still hear the sobering voice of my teacher mom in my head today.” Murray says one of her greatest rewards in the business is seeing just how impactful one slice of Christmas cake can be.
She recalls visiting one of her friends whose husband had passed and all she could think of to ease her friend’s pain was some good ol’ fruit cake.
Later, someone mentioned to her how the widow’s eyes had lit up after having a slice, laughing that her tears had almost rolled back up into her eyes.
“Trust me, there’s no greater reward than this,” she laughed, revealing one her of her secret ingredients – love.
“Whatever you do, you do it with the love that you want to share, so that it can be passed on to someone else,” Murray said.
For this holiday, she is encouraging others to share a bit of the love this festive season, as she does with fruit cake, so that others will want to spread that good feeling.
“December 29 marks three years since a major heart attack and I feel especially blessed to be doing this … back in the oven and able to titillate taste buds with another ‘slyce’.”