Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Baking Begins (a month ago)

It's Christmas, which means a bustling buzzing city, silly day time movies and cozying up on the couch with my family. It means turkey and ham, roast potatoes, sherry soaked fruitcake, boozy Christmas pudding, mince pies, Christmas cookies, great conversation, and silly cracker jokes.

I love Christmas, the excitement, the sense of togetherness and family that pervades the air, intertwining with the scent of cinnamon and cloves. I figured I'd start my Christmas baking countdown with my Christmas cake which admittedly was baked in November but I thought I might scare people off if I posted the recipe then :P

This recipe is an old family recipe passed down from my mother's side, originating from Canada and a newspaper from the 50's. The traditional christmas cake contains currants and spices, not this cake. This is a light fruitcake but the effect is a much moister, richer cake with none of that grittiness you often find with darker, more traditional fruitcakes.

WORD OF WARNING! The raisins need to soak for at least 12 hours before going into the mix!

Christmas Cake
  • 4 cups chopped candied orange and lemon peel, pineapple, candied ginger and glacé cherries
  • 2lbs jumbo golden raisins
  • 1.5 cups butter
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsps baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1.5 bottles sweet sherry or Madiera
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup whipping cream
Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with the sherry
Wrap in cling film and leave overnight

In the morning, transfer them to a saucepan and bring to a boil, simmering over a medium heat for 30 mins until the raisins have swollen.
Drain and reserve the liquid to pour over the cake later, and add the raisins to a large mixing bowl (my aunt traditionally used a baby bath!)

Preheat the oven to 130C and prepare a 9" deep cake tin by lining the sides with stiff brown paper (not cardboard) and lining the sides and base with greased greaseproof paper. Make sure these linings come about 4-6 inches above the rim of the tin.

Sieve the flour and baking powder and salt into a small bowl

Chop the almonds roughly, leaving some whole and add too the raisins, throwing in the glacéd fruit, candied peel, pineapple and ginger.
Add a handful of flour and toss to coat the fruit mixture

Cream the butter and sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, plus some flour to prevent the mixture splitting. Beat well.

In yet another bowl whip the cream into stiff peaks

Arrange the smaller bowls around the big bowl full of fruit and alternate adding the cream, batter mixture and flour mixture to the fruit, folding gently.
When all of these piles are well combined in the main bowl transfer the batter into the prepared tin, pushing it to the edges and making sure it is spread evenly and smoothed. Place this tin into a roasting tray with a little water in the base of it to stop the cake drying out.

Bake for 5-6 hours, checking the water leveland topping it up as needed.The cake is done when a skewer comes clean out of the center.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 2 days, then turn out and put tin foil around it.
Make holes with a skewer and pour over the liquid from the raisins.
Cover with the tinoil and wrap tightly in a plastic bag to keep it airtight.
Unwrap and decorate closer to Christmas :D