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)
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 !