Tis the Season!

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.

Ingredients.

200g raisins

200g sultanas

180g dried apricots, diced

150g dried cranberries (Craisins)

100g pitted prunes, chopped

100g glace cherries

100g mixed peel

250ml liqueur muscat

5 eggs

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

125ml brandy

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.

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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.

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Combine eggs, treacle, marmalade, vanilla, almond essence, orange zest and juice in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.

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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.

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Add egg mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth.

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Fold in flour mixture and then stir in fruit mixture.

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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.

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Pierce the top of the cooked cake several times with skewer then sprinkle with brandy.

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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.

16 thoughts on “Tis the Season!

    1. Christmas cake lasts for ages if stored appropriately so go on and make one just for you! 🙂 You can cut it up into slices, wrap each one in cling film and freeze so you can just grab a slice whenever the mood suits.

  1. What a gorgeous square tin!!! I am dead jel…and what is that unctuous bottle of booze…can’t quite tell from the picky. Booze doesn’t last long enough to soak fruit in on Serendipity Farm and if the last vestiges of dreggy goodness get drizzled onto fruit it gets scoffed before the bottle is dry…think of me as you tuck into slices Pinky…no fruity delight for me but that’s probably a good thing as post Christmas was where I used to seriously teeter on the diabetic precipice with my over indulgence of Christmas Cake. I once made an entire one of mum’s Christmas cakes magically disappear all by myself in 3 days. Love the Christmassy hero shot by the way but that elf has a decidedly naughty feel to him 😉

    1. Thanks Fronkiii 🙂 I can make you one and send it if you’d like one? I’m making another batch of fruit for some smaller cakes I’m giving to Jim and the girls. I got a bit bored with my blog theme and saw this cute new one for Christmas so changed my theme for the season. I liked the little elf too 🙂

      1. I fear if you made me a cake it would just get snarfed by moi and it would cost a fortune to send it over Pinky. I can imagine how gorgeous it is from afar. What was that first bottle of booze by the way? I couldn’t quite make it out in the image but it looks delicious 🙂 Most of the way through my STUPID OH&S assessment and then I can finally finish up for the year and get stuck into the garden. Usually I am a bit of a work shirker but after this heinous load of bampf studies, good old fashioned hard yards in the garden looks like someplace I want to put myself ASAP. That elf is UBER cute (but with a hint of naughty 😉 ). When you get stuck into your Chrissy cakes, just tell me how they taste and I will live vicariously through your lips 😉

      2. The first bottle that I soaked the fruit in was De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat,Oak aged 8 years and the last bottle was Courvoisier VS cognac. We don’t use it any other time but for the Christmas cakes 😀 I’ve planted in bigger pots and staked 2 Apollo tomatoes and a Grosse Lisse tomato plant and the apollos already have tomatoes on them! They are early fruiters so i’m really looking forward to some nice tomatoes hot off the bush. The blueberries are a mass of fruit and my herbs have gone wild growing all over each other but smelling delightful :D.

      3. You are doing better than I am…I haven’t had time to get out into the garden as we are flat out studying. I have to quickly jab out a blog post today in between making my poor addled brain make some sort of semblance out of OH&S…I can’t wait till the course is finally finished and we can rest our weary brains and get outside for a change. Eat one of those blueberries for me 🙂 Cheers for the info on the De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat as that was the bottle I was wondering about. Is it nice? I love muscat :). When Kym was here I bought a bottle of Brown Brothers muscat that was delectable. Steve didn’t like it but I did 😉

    1. The alcohol acts as a preservative as much as a tasty treat and I advised a friend who doesn’t drink that she could also soak the fruit in either cranberry, pineapple or even mango juice but that it will definitely need to be kept refrigerated after cooking. 🙂

  2. Hi, Cathy! Don’t know why I haven’t been following you all along, but better late than never!
    That recipe looks so good! My Mum always made Christmas cakes, too, and when my sons were still at home, I created my own recipe and loved it! Wish I could remember where the little box with my Christmas recipes is . . . I had a very large kettle I used for making jam and other preserves and would make enough raw cake to fill that (after adding the fruit). My cakes were very heavy on fruit and lighter on dough. I made a lot of them in November, soaked them with brandy, wrapped them in cheesecloth, then aluminium foil (I’d use parchment these days between the cheesecloth and the foil), then they were stored for just over a year, with an occasional extra sprinkling of brandy.. My, they were good!! But I live far from my sons now and besides, they are likely too healthy these days to eat Christmas cake. Mum doesn’t eat much of it either these days, so I just buy a very inferior one from the grocery store. It tastes fine, just not like my own. One day, though . . .

    You wouldn’t have your Mum’s recipe and be willing to share, would you? I love to collect old recipes. I’d be happy with the original commercial one and/or the one she cut down for family.

    I love your tins, too. My Mum had proper cake tins, but I used bread loaf tins and whatever cake pans I owned. Tasted just as good . . .

    This is going to be much longer than I intended; I think I’ll poach it for a ‘Thought and Memory’ post of my own. Have a wonderful time in the garden, eh? ~ Linne

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