Day 224 of 365 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

The day has arrived to make my Christmas cake so that it can mature in time for Christmas Day. It is better if you bake it a month ahead, however it can be made closer to the day but it will not have the same maturity. You can make it up to three months beforehand but this never happens in my house because I have to feel the Christmas spirit when I make it!

So folks, today I am going to give you my all-time great Christmas cake recipe. Ask any of the family about my cake and they will give you a glowing account of its taste. Now for the secret ingredient to my cake … RUM RUM and more RUM.

Yes, IN the cake and on TOP of the cake after it is cooked. Don’t worry about the alcohol content because it will be cooked out in the oven and it will also evaporate out of the cake while it sits and matures in aluminum foil in the cupboard.  So don’t worry if you do not drink and if you are driving you can eat my cake!

Now, before I give you my recipe, let me prepare you psychologically for the making of the Christmas cake. There are certain things that I do which, over the years have turned the making of the cake into a ritual. These are not mandatory of course, they are just suggestions to make the exercise a highly enjoyable experience which nurtures the soul and gets you in the mood for Christmas.

I just love my ritual of cake making and I look forward to the day when it all happens … and for me that will be late this afternoon. I hope you too will enjoy the experience. Here are my suggestions:

  • Get in the mood: put on your favourite Christmas music while you prepare the cake and light up the Christmas tree.
  • Use your senses: smell deeply the lemon and orange peel as you grate it for the cake; it smells magnificent.
  • Use Roses Lime marmalade jam as it has a beautiful flavour
  • Double the cherries for the cake and cut some in half to give the illusion of more, but not all, it is nice to bite some whole cherries! I always eat at least two cherries because I simply cannot resist. Makes me feel Christmassy.
  • After beating the butter and sugar, give the beaters to a child to lick or even better, lick them yourself and pretend you ARE a child!
  • Pick a time when you are not rushed so that you can enjoy the whole experience. Bake the cake with love in your heart for those who will eat it.

Tess’  Traditional Christmas Cake

**This mixture will fit into a 23 cm (9″) round or 20cm deep (0″) square cake tin lined with baking paper.

  1. 750 g (1-1/2 lb) sultanas
  2. 250g (8oz) raisins
  3. 125g (4oz) currants
  4. 10 chopped dates
  5. 125g(4oz) glace cherries and 125g of glace ginger
  6. 1/2 cup rum, brandy or sherry (I use rum)
  7. 250g (8oz) butter
  8. 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
  9. 1 teas granted orange rind; 1 teas grated lemon rind
  10. 2 tablespoons marmalade
  11. 1 teas vanilla extract
  12. 2-1/2 cups plain flour
  13. spices: 1 teas mixed spice, 1/4 teas cinnamon, 1/4 teas nutmeg, pinch salt.

Method:

  • Chop any large pieces of fruit and put into a bowl; pour the alcohol over and mix well. Cover and stand for up to a three days.
  • Cream butter and sugar, grated fruit rinds and vanilla, add marmalade
  • Drop eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Fold in prepared fruit alternately with sifted dry ingredients, mix well
  • Put mixture into lined tin and smooth top
  • Bake in slow oven (300 F or 150 Celsius) for approx 4 hours ( the cake goes darker as it slowly cooks)

When the cake comes out of the oven, make small holes on top of cake with a skewer and pour 1 tablespoon of rum over the cake. Cover with aluminum foil immediately so top will stay soft. Continue to pour a tablespoon of rum over the cake twice more while still warm. When cold, remove from tin, wrap in aluminum foil and store in an airtight container.

You can decorate the top with icing if you wish but another alternative is to press whole almonds over the top of the cake before baking. Sometimes, I put lemon icing on the top and a frilly Christmas paper around the sides but more often than not, I leave it to stand on its own merits because it is such a fabulous cake.

Some hints that I have found useful:

  1. My oven seems hotter than most so I cook my cake on a little lower heat than recommended above, but you know your oven best so use discretion.
  2. Judge the consistency of the mixture before putting in the cake tin; if it seems too runny add more flour, if too thick add some extra rum
  3. If I have no marmalade and I am caught out I simply use apricot jam or lemon spread. You can leave it out altogether but you will have to make it up with something similar.
  4. Make sure the butter is soft enough to mix. I leave it at room temperature overnight if I’m baking it early in the day.

Enjoy!

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