Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas is coming!

I love Christmas and everything about it - yep even the carols that play continuously in the super market! Christmas to me, is about spending time with my family and friends, appreciating all the good things we have in our lives and about reflecting on the past year. Of course, food always plays a big part in our family Christmas celebrations. Over the years we have had every kind of Christmas meal possible - from the traditional English roast turkey and ham, to the more Australian Christmas of roast lamb and prawns to a Lebanese mezze and kebabs! But one thing I always love to eat at Christmas is fruit cake, Christmas pudding and fruit mince pies. I just can't go without them. Often we also fill the freezer with mince pies prior to Christmas so that we can eat them well into the new year too.

mmmm...Christmas cake!!!

For a number of years now, I have toyed with the idea of making a Christmas cake, although every year I have ended up leaving it a little late. This year I finally decided to give it a go. I only made this over the past weekend, however we won't be cutting into it untill January when we return to Sydney after spending a few weeks with our families and friends, so it will have a bit of time to mature. I can't wait until we finally get to try it - I can't believe I have to wait almost 6 weeks to taste it!

Classic Rich Christmas Cake

375g raisins, chopped
375g sultanas
375g currants
430g pitted prunes, chopped
100g mixed glace cherries, chopped
1 cup brandy
melted butter for greasing
250g unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 cup plum jam
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
extra 2 tablespoons brandy

Combine raisins, currants, sultanas, prunes and cherries with brandy in a large container - leave soak for at least 2 hours (I left it for 10 days).

Preheat the oven to 160C (140C fan forced). Grease a 20cm deep round cake tin with melted butter and line with 2 layers of baking paper on sides and base. Allow the paper on the sides to come up above the top edge of the cake tin.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add jam and rind and beat until combined.

The butter and fruit mixture

Add the butter mixture to fruit mix and, using a large metal spoon, stir until well combined. Sift the flour and spices over butter/fruit mix and fold in. Add the orange juice and fold until well combined.

Almost ready to go in the oven

Spoon the mixture into prepared tin. Sprinkle the top with a little water and smooth top with the back of a spoon. Tap the cake pan gently on bench to settle the mixture.

Wrap a double thickness of brown paper around the tin and secure it with kitchen string. Bake the cake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Remove the brown paper and pour the extra 2 tablespoons of brandy over the top of the cake.

Just out of the oven - the smell was divine!

Wrap cake (still in tin), in a clean thick towel and leave overnight to cool

The cake in it's pyjamas!

Remove the cake from the tin and wrap in several layers of cling wrap. The cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Boy did I want to cut into it at this point! But I stayed strong! Do you have a favourite food or treat that you eat at Christmas time?

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, December 2008 (pg 56)


Annie said...

Oooh, so glad that I get to be a part of eating this cake!!! Although the photos are just teasing, you might want to keep me away from your fridge next time I visit!

Simone de Klerk said...

Wow, this really looks YUMMIE! Thanks for adding the recipe (O:

Anonymous said...

I love how tall your cake is-stay strong, it will all be worth it in the end! As for a favourite food, that's too hard, how about the masses of fresh seafood?

Renee said...

Annie - you are going to have to wait until I try it first! ;)

Thanks Simone - I hope it tastes yummy too

Lorraine - it is tall isn't it? As I was spooning the mix into the tin I was quietly swearing to myself as I was so worried it would not fit - but thankfully it just made it! We weighed it afterwards because it seemed so huge. And it is - 3.6kg of Christmas cake!!