Many people will have made their Christmas cakes by now, but I am a little behind this year. In fact it wasn’t until I turned the page on the calendar yesterday, that it dawned on me I hadn’t done it, and we are now into October! I therefore set my fruit to soak last night and this morning, I have made the cakes. As I don’t feed my cakes with alcohol, it’s not such a big deal that it’s a little late this year, but I am told the flavour is greatly improved if they have had a chance to mature. I say I’m told this is true, because I don’t actually like fruit cake or dried fruit of any kind, but, I adore the smell of the spices, and right now, my house smells delicious as 2 of the 4 hours baking has passed.
The recipe I use is one from a book I always remember my Mum using way back. It was from a television series that used to be on in the 1970’s called The Farmhouse Kitchen -http://www.amazon.co.uk/Farmhouse-Kitchen-Dorothy-Sleightholme/dp/0950111317/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412249179&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=farmhous+kitchen . It was made by Yorkshire television, and from what I remember, it was a couple of older ladies, cooking their favourite recipes – I may be mistaken with this recollection, but it was a programme I only ever saw when I was off school sick as it was on in the afternoon. It was from the era when cookery programmes weren’t about celebrity chefs, and strange ingredients, but about recipes being followed that the viewer could go away, and make with some success. The recipes were good hearty recipes to feed your family. My Mum had several books from the series, and used them all regularly. Many of the recipes are accredited to viewers who had sent them in. I often go to them if I am stuck to find a recipe. They are however so old that the temperature in them are only in gas or farenheit, so I have to work out what I need to set my oven at in celsius! Some of the recipes are a great snapshot of the era, with things that these days we wouldn’t think of creating, like brawn, or roast guinea fowl. Its an interesting read.
Heres the recipe for Christmas Cake.
100g glace cherries – halved
100g mixed peel
2 tabs brandy
225g soft brown sugar
225g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
100g ground almonds.
Put the fruit in a bowl and add the brandy. Leave to soak overnight – I don’t use brandy but a ginger cordial.
Prepare a 8″ cake tin.
Heat oven to 150c.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well.
Add the flour, spice – I do add more spice than the recipe says as it adds to the depth of flavour, and ground almonds.
Mix in the fruit.
Bake for between 3 and 4 hours, until it is springy to the touch.
When cooled, store in an airtight tin until ready to decorate.
It is a very simple recipe, that I double the quantity to make more cakes. It is packed with fruit but not too heavy. I just know the boys will want to be eating it when they get home from school, so I am going to have to put them out of sight until they are totally cooled for storage.
I may not enjoy eating the cake, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas in our household without a slab of fruit cake sitting on the side!