I do love Christmas. I love that families can come together to celebrate on the day, or they can be apart and drop in over the weeks surrounding the actual day, or they can just phone up on the day. Most of my immediate family is scattered now. My sister Fronkiii of “The road to Serendipity” blog fame lives over 4000km away in Tasmania to the East, my brother Jim lives in the next town to my west, Denmark, and I live in Albany Western Australia. We used to have massive Christmases back when I was young. Whole families and their hangers on would all congregate at either one of my Aunts Alice or Margarets houses or my Grandparents places and eat, drink and be very merry. It was a lot of fun and a time to catch up on long lost rellies and welcome the newborns. Gifts would be exchanged and many plates of food eaten.
What I remember most fondly is the making of the Christmas cakes. Mum used an old recipe that her father and brother had gotten from Arnotts cake factory when they worked there back in the late 40s and 50s and had cut down to a useable size. As children we used to love helping peel the almonds and mix the fruit in and the prize of licking the spoon or bowl was most fought for! Mum passed away a couple of years ago now and we all surely miss her baking. She used to keep us all well supplied with fruit mince pies and fruit cakes and chocolate brandy truffles and savoury dishes. It’s my turn to keep up this tradition and I have offered to make my brother and daughters Christmas cakes this year. Like me, they will one day want to make their own and I look forward to helping them find their own special recipe. The recipe that follows is one I’ve used over the past 2-3 years and it is extremely versatile by way of being able to be eaten as a pudding as well as a cake with custard, cream or ice cream or all three! I’ve made it gluten free and you cannot tell the difference 😀
Rich Christmas fruit cake with Muscat.
180g dried apricots, diced
150g dried cranberries (Craisins)
100g pitted prunes, chopped
100g glace cherries
100g mixed peel
250ml liqueur muscat
1/4 cup treacle
1/4 cup ginger marmalade
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond essence
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
300g Gluten Free plain flour
3tsp gluten free baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp fine salt
250g unsalted butter
300g dark brown sugar
One of the first things I do is to combine all the fruits and the Muscat into a glass bowl, mix well and cover with cling film. Then they are refrigerated for 2 days or until the fruit has absorbed all of the alcohol and is nice and plump.
Assemble all the rest of the cake ingredients. Grease and line a 24cm cake pan, either round or square with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 140 Celsius.
Combine eggs, treacle, marmalade, vanilla, almond essence, orange zest and juice in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
Sift flour, baking powder and mixed spice and salt into a large bowl.
Put butter and dark brown sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat for a good 5 minutes or until light and creamy.
Add egg mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth.
Fold in flour mixture and then stir in fruit mixture.
Spoon batter into tin, put tin on wire rack set on an oven tray and bake rotating every hour, for 3 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Pierce the top of the cooked cake several times with skewer then sprinkle with brandy.
Set aside to cool completely in the tin. When cold, remove cake from tin and wrap tightly in cling film. Put in fridge to mature for 1 week.
This cake keeps really well due to its liberal amount of alcohol. I tend to keep mine in the fridge.
This is a wonderful cake and I hope you all have as much joy as I do in making and eating it.