Well I've baked the Christmas cake. It's secreted away ready for 'marzipan-ing' and icing. I plan something very simple. Which actually could prove to be harder to do than something elaborate! but I'm going to have a go.
I don't use a true Christmas cake recipe but a combination of two boiled fruit cake recipes. I know boiled cake sounds horrible. It is baked.....but first of all, all the fruits are simmered in a saucepan with the butter and sugar and spices and alcohol so that they plump up and become unctuous and juicy. It makes a lovely moist cake.
The recipes also have nice memories. One is my sister J's recipe who lives in Manchester. It's actually a recipe for Boiled Norfolk fruit cake. The other is Rosie's recipe. When I was a teenager I went on holiday to Devon with my big sister P and her husband, (she got married very young) We stayed with their friends Ian and Rose who lived in a lovely old house with an amazing garden. It was very hot and there were bees buzzing in the garden where they grew all their own vegetables that tasted out of this world. When we arrived I remember Rosie coming to greet us at at the kitchen door. She was rosy by name, nature and looks. She was very pretty with dark curly hair and rosy cheeks. She made this fruit cake for us in a loaf tine and scones with clotted cream tea. She cooked on an Aga, vegetables that were dug up straight from the garden and I just thought she was wonderful. I can remember every meal we ate.......pan fried fish with new potatoes and carrots from the garden and fiery horseradish sauce, bananas baked on the Aga in honey and served with clotted cream......mmm.....ooh and the best chocolate cake.....I don't have that recipe though....
To make Rosie's/J's fruit cake you will need:
- 8 ounces of butter
- 1lb of fruit. I use a mixture of green raisins and sultanas, chopped deseeded dates and undyed cherries. I also like nuts in fruit cake so have a handful of chopped walnuts.
- 5 ounces of brown sugar
- 1 level teaspoonful mixed spice. I also add ground cinnamon and a little ginger.
- 1 level teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
- 10 ounces of SR flour
- 2 beaten eggs.
- 8 ounces of water
- I add Vanilla extract and a little almond extract too.
- It's nice if making for a special occassion to add some rum or liqueur or fortified wine to give a lovely deep grown-up flavoured cake.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add all the other ingredients except the flour, eggs and nuts if using.
- Simmer gently for about twenty minutes
- Allow to cool and then add the flour and eggs and nuts
- Mix well
- Transfer to an 8inch cake tin lined with 2 sheets of paper
- Cook at 300f/150c for one hour, plus for fifteen minutes without the paper until nicely browned.
- Place on a rack to cool.
By cooking the fruit in this way the process is much simpler, no heavy creaming to do and the final result is a lovely moist cake. It's really worth taking the time to line the tin with a double layer of paper because there is nothing worse than bitter burnt fruit on top of the cake. Well that's one Christmas box ticked off.
I'll let you know how the decorating gets on......