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Saturday, 26 November 2011

I promised cake and here's some more:

REPOSTED---Today I am mostly making Xmas Cakes, part I
First posted 5th December 2010

Here's another look at the Christmas cake in case you were thinking of making one this year, better get a move on!  I will be blogging other Christmas goodies in an effort to help people think of things they can make for Christmas---SPEND MORE TIME THAN MONEY CHRISTMAS 2011---so, here's how it goes again:

This post is especially for my Americano friends and relatives who have asked about the kind of food I have learned to cook since I have been over here, so here's one tradition I have learned and been a practitioner of since 1995...the Xmas cake.

In the US, fruit cakes are not well-loved...but in England, Xmas just isn't Xmas without the Xmas cake.

My step-daughter's Aunt Blanche is who wrote the original recipe for the cake my family loves best but over the years I have adapted it somewhat, in particular to make it just a little bit more "drunk".

I actually get all of the fruit together and soak them in Brandy, brown sugar, cinnamon & powdered ginger. This causes the fruit to make a syrup and makes the fruit very juicy too.

My family don't like the mixed peel [that's in the original recipe] but LOVE ginger, so I use:

a whole bag of dark raisins
a bag of extra-large golden raisins
a pot of candied ginger
a big tub of candied cherries.
I use brandy to soak the fruit in...you will see many photos of the bottle in a moment, this year I started on November 15th, so the fruit's been soaking a good, long time.

It's usually a good idea to drain the fruit a couple of hours before you begin making the cake.

That means adapt to your taste, I reckon Maker's Mark would make a good soaking liquid [I'd like to try with Southern Comfort (what do you think?) but wonder if it would be too sweet] and so pick what you like...add nuts or different dried fruit to suit your family's taste.

As in most cakes, You gotta put the unwaxed paper in the pans before beginning anything. They call this baking paper over here, but it is vey much like waxed paper without the sheen, this is so the cake will come out quickly. I find buttering the inside of the pan quickly will help the paper stay in place. I make cakes for friends of ours too, so I have to double the recipe.

Then get the butter out so it will soften! [or nuke it 20 seconds, just as good]

I assemble the ingredients by type, all the dry in one bowl and all the "wet" in a larger one.

4 ounces of ground almonds
7 ounces of caster [granulated] sugar

2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1Tablespoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
A pinch of salt

set aside.

Then break 4 eggs in the bowl, whisk until smooth

Cream the butter, eggs mix, plus:

2 Tablespoons golden syrup [use dark Karo or maple syrup]

teaspoon vanilla

cream together until you get them smooth as possible

set aside and return to the dry ingredients

Then sift together:

Add it little by little to the creamed ingredients

Now it's very possible that the batter will get quite stiff and so if you need to, use a bit more brandy [you can use the leavings liquid from the drained fruit if there is any] and a bit of milk alternatively to soften the batter a bit and make it easier to mix.

Then comes the fun bit, we always stick a pound coin in the cake, whoever gets it in their piece is meant to have a very good year. Originally it was a silver sixpence in the Xmas [a Victorian tradition] pudding but as my lot don't like pudding & love cake & sixpences are out of circulation we do the pound. Just have to remember to tell people before they bite it to look out for the money. I wrap them in tinfoil so as not to get dirty coins on the cake. Reckon a silver dollar could work just as good.

Once that's done, it's time to add the drained fruit to the cake batter---

The batter with the fruit in it is meant to be stirred by every member of the family to bring it good luck in cooking it. So my husband helps stir it up.

Now it's time to fill the pans with the batter--- Oh, and if you cannot stand the spoon upright in the cake batter then it is not quite thick enough

Don't forget the coin! Put the pans on a baking sheet [cookie sheet] so if it raises over the top of the pan, you don't also have the task of cleaning the oven.

Now bake for 1/2 hour at gas mark 6, that's 220 C or 400 F

After a half hour is up, turn down the heat to gas mark 2, that's 150 C or 300 F and check it every 20 minutes until it's done...springs back to the touch on the top & a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let set for a good half hour in the tin...OK mine look a bit burnt but DON'T WORRY I'll be cutting that crust off later in part 2 when they get decorated. [Actually I was putting the Christmas tree up upstairs & didn't hear the timer---but they are all right really]

See, the bottoms are perfect...anyway, then turn them out of the pan and place on the cooling rack upside down to cool entirely

Once cooled, peel off all the baking paper & using a large cocktail toothpick poke holes in the bottoms of the cakes

Using a TEAspoon, sprinkle a small amount of brandy over the bottoms of the cakes, and then put them in cake boxes and every other day feed them with the brandy again until you finish the cakes just before Xmas day.

This year I had some cake mix left over after making 5 cakes.  We have someone in our office who is wheat allergic so I used spelt flour instead and made them in cup cakes...we'll see how they go down in the office on Monday...fingers crossed they're as nice as the cakes

I'll do another post later on so you can see how they are finished...look out for it! 

Planned the decorations for this year's cake, so will show those later in December when I get them ready!

Happy Holidays!

Please share at will!---Gabrielle 2010/2011

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