Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Cake Part 2

Carla asked an interesting question about wrapping the cake - you do it when it's cool and I generally leave it in the tin or at least leave the greaseproof and brown paper wrappings on it - no worries then about contamination from the newsprint. I've also update the receipe to give US equivalents for the flour - anyone in the UK will be familiar with plain flour and Self-raising flour. Not sure what they do in Canada?
Found this handy website for those who want to make US/British conversions for receipes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Cake

Remember last year when I was ready for Christmas in January? Well -now I am footloose and fancy free I've got my Christmas mojo happening a bit earlier than normal. Today I put my fruit down to soak ("macerate" is the technical term). I've been making this Christmas Cake since 1978 - I was 13 at the time! Mum discovered the receipe in The Australian Women's Weekly. We were attracted to the fact that it said it made a nice moist cake and was suitable for those who need to make a cake at the last minute.

Well - there's nothing worse than dry fruit cake (you know the ones that look promising but need a large cup of tea to wash it down?) and Mum is not one of those highly organised people who puts her fruit down to soak on the 1st July (suprisingly - either am I!).

So - we made the cake. It was brilliant. So brilliant - we've made it ever since. I even made it for my wedding cake. I've never tasted a better Christmas cake and don't think I'd even be tempted to try a different receipe. So - if your own Christmas cake is a little disappointing - try this one. I think the secret is the glace fruit and the grated apple. Make sure you use a good brandy. VSOP is great - "Very Safe for Old People" as my grandma use to say.

Christmas Cake - Australian Women's Weekly 1978.

375g (12oz) sultanas

375g (12oz) raisins

125g (4oz) dates (chopped and stoned)

125g (4oz) currants

60g (2oz) mixed peel

125g (4oz) prunes (chopped and stoned)

60g (2oz) glace pineapple

60g (20z) glace apricots

125g (4oz) glace cherries

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup brandy

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 apple - peeled and grated

250g (8oz) butter

1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour (American equivalent is all-purpose flour)

1/4 cup self-raising flour (American equivalent 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup of brandy (optional - but not if you belong to my family)

Chop fruit and put into a bowl and add orange juice and brandy, lemon juice, rinds and peeled grated apple - mix well.

Cover and leave stand 1 or 2 days (or a month or two if you're organised). Use an 8" cake tin, greased and lined with 1 brown paper and 2 greaseproof paper linings. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and beat in well until the mixture is smooth again. Add in sifted flours and various spices. Mix in and add fruits. Bake in a low/moderate oven until cooked. (I place a piece of brown paper over the top of the tin for the first hour - it helps stop the top from burning). When cooked remove from oven and pur 1/4 cup of brandy over the cake. Wrap the cake in newspaper (when cool) and store upsidedown until you wish to ice it. Storing it upsidedown helps to give a flat surface to work on. Carla asked about wrapping it in newspaper (the brown paper and greaseproof is still around the cake when you wrap it (I also usually leave it in the tin to help it keep a good shape) - see - someone always asks a question you didn't think of!)

Enjoy - you won't be disappointed !

What I've been up to recently

Well - not much happening on the craft front although I have made a doll (the basic pattern from Patti Culea's Cloth Doll Making Book) which is going to be in a round robin with a bunch of friends (this will start in January - scary thought). It's so long since I made a doll she's got blow outs in the finger and neck as well as being a bit lumpy in the stuffing department - I am really out of practice!

Hmm - also knitted a bag in fluffy yarn and also made some button necklaces (quick and easy - thanks to Kellee for showing us how).

My major project has been to start a blog about my great great grandfather - William Robertson. He started writing poetry and stories in his 70s - very fascinating. I've been helping my dad on his family tree.

He didn't really know his own father (long story) so finding family and making connections has been something of a journey of discovery and I think he is secretly chuffed to find out his great grandfather was a writer (as was his grandfather). As he said, "well it explains the poetic gene" - to which I wittly replied, "oh - good on you fat head!"

But my dad has always been good at writing (he's not talkative - too introverted for that). He wrote to my (maternal) grandfather to ask permission to marry Mum (because Dad was at sea and wasn't able to do it in person).

My grandpa was Police Commissioner in New Guinea after the war and he summoned my mother to come and see him. He had a great sense of humour and so he said very sternly to my mother, "this man is not a seaman at all." Mum got worried thinking he was about to tell her he'd had her fiance investigated and found some dark secret about him! My grandpa went on, "no - he most definitely is not. He's a bloody poet!"

Funny! Anyway - Dad's great grandfather William self published two books of poetry called "The Mountain Muse" and "Echoes of the Mountain Muse" - I have started blogging the stories and poems and adding additional information in on the topics and research and so on. It's right up my genealogical/ history alley! Take a look here.