I always intend to make our Christmas cake around the first week of November. I don't always succeed; but this year I thought I would get organised early.
Only I thought I'd wait until after I had hosted the Christian writing group early in the month.. we were having a potluck-style shared lunch after the meeting, and as I closed the oven after removing a couple of things from it... this happened:
The inner glass panel had come away from its glue, and slid right down inside the door.
It's not the first time this has happened. As far as we recall, it's actually the fourth time since we moved to this house. The last time was - we think - only about seven or eight months ago. Richard used a glue that was supposed to be stronger than the one he had previous used... but evidently it wasn't.
So I didn't use the oven for a couple of days, cooking instead with the slow-cooker, or the microwave, or even the halogen oven we bought in the summer but which I really don't like. Still, it did the job.
And because it wasn't an emergency, and because Richard was extremely busy, we were nearly two weeks without an oven. I did point out that there was no way I could make this year's Christmas cake in anything other than the oven... and, last Friday, Richard bought some heat-proof glue (NOT the kind he used last time!) planning to mend the door this week, since we're having guests to dinner on Thursday evening.
On Monday evening, he finally set to work. He unscrewed the door, removed the glass panel... and realised that while the glue had come away from the door, rather a lot of it had stuck, very firmly, to the glass.
So he started chipping it away. He had been doing this for about five minutes, and I had wandered away when I heard a different kind of noise, and 'Oh no!' emanating from the kitchen.
'What happened?' I called.
'The glass cracked,' came the reply.
I rushed through, expecting to find it neatly cracked in two. Or, perhaps four pieces...
Instead I saw this:
The final piece of attached glue had been just too strongly attached, and attempting to remove it had turned the panel into hundreds, perhaps thousands of smithereens.
The next ten minutes were spent clearing up the glass from the work surfaces (previously-used jiffy bags are extremely useful for this purpose), and the floor, and changing the cat food, and sweeping under appliances, and mopping the floor....
And then we wondered what to do.
Yesterday, Richard visited the workshop that has cut regular glass for him, for the boat and elsewhere. They said that yes, they could make a new panel, but it would then have to be sent away to be 'toughened' to make it oven-proof.
And it would take between ten days and two weeks.
Oh no :-(
So in the evening (after cooking our meal on the stove top and microwave again), we decided on a temporary compromise solution. Richard removed the oven door from our guest flat oven, since there isn't anybody staying there at present. The oven looks identical to our oven, and we tried this once before when the door was broken; unfortunately it's not exactly identical... and the guest flat door doesn't seal very well in our oven.
But it's a lot better than nothing.
So today, finally, I made this year's Christmas cake:
I put it in the oven, and quite enjoyed the warm air that escaped through the top... no doubt it makes it a great deal less efficient, but at this time of year a little extra heat isn't a bad thing.
After a few hours, the cake smelled - and looked - cooked so I took it out:
This whole episode has a strong sense of déja vu about it, which is unsurprising because, when I searched through the archives of this blog, I discovered that the first time the oven door broke was almost exactly four years ago... just when I wanted to make our 2008 Christmas cake.