Monday, November 30, 2009

A tipsy Christmas Cake

How many memories this recipe brings back to me, we used to make our Christmas Cake on Sir-Up Sunday which was around the end of November, this year it was the 22nd November and I sadly missed it, but I made my cake last weekend instead.

On Stir-Up Sunday we would make the cake in the afternoon, after morning church and the Sunday baked dinner. Mum would mix it up and then all the family would stir it a few times and make a wish as they did so. The smell of the dried fruit soaking (becoming tipsy as mum said) the week before had already scented the house, then the baking sent out even more delicious scents of spices and cooking cake. The cake, once baked, was 'fed' sherry every week until it was well and truly tipsy, it was as dangerous, and delicious, as mum's Christmas trifle!

Making the cake was so exciting because it meant that Christmas wasn't that far away and the Advent Calender count down would start from the 1st December along with the count down to Santa Claus.

Mum had two recipes, both are boiled fruit cakes and one uses an ingredient that no longer exists, Maxam Pastry Mix, it was an Australian packet pastry mix from the '50's - '60's. Thankfully she also had one that uses flour and this is the one that I use.

Christmas Fruit Cake - boiled
Slow to moderate oven
Cooking time 2 hours
Greased, paper lined, cake tin

1lb of dried fruit (mum always used a packet mix of Australian dried fruit, but I get mine from the Co-Op, always Australian and organic)
1/2 lb butter
1 teas mixed spice (I use much more and add unusual things like cardamon and black pepper)
blanched almonds for the cake and decoration
1 tablespoon golden syrup (or Cocky's Joy as we called it)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
3 well beaten eggs
1 teaspoon coffee essence or Parisian essence (makes the cake dark)
Small teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour

Week before
Soak dried fruit in one cup of an alcohol of your choice, I usually use whiskey or sherry

On baking day
Put the tipsy dried fruit, half the almonds, butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, mixed spices, water into a large, heavy based, saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, drop to a simmer, simmer for 10 minutes, let cool.

Once cool, mix in the eggs, essence, then the sifted flours and baking powder.

Pour cake into your prepared cake tin. Wrap your tin in layers of newspaper so the cake doesn't bake too fast, I put extra paper on the bottom to prevent burning. This is a moist cake, so don't overcook it. Cool cake in tin, take out, wrap in alfoil and pour over your 3 tablespoons of alcohol of your choice (I use whiskey), store in a cool, dry place and feed it alcohol each week, until its well and truly tipsy!

Greased and papered tin

Ready for the oven

Wrapped up for the oven

A proud daughter keeping her mother's traditions alive