Despite this, the thought of Christmas alone gets me all excited!! Even though I'm not Christian and we don't actually celebrate it for any religious reasons, it's such a wonderful celebration that we love getting involved with. The thought of Christmas to me is a time of pure enjoyment and excitement. I love how all around us people come together to celebrate for the same reason, and everyone gets so involved and the lead up to it is just wonderful - the excitement when shops start putting up their xmas displays, people start decorating their houses with all sorts of lights and decorations, charity toy drives kick in....there is a buzz in their air you can't help but feel and get all excited about.
It's a hard feeling to describe...but yes, absolutely love it. And so, in the spirit of Christmas, I have decided to make a traditional Christmas Cake!! I thought it would be a nice gesture to wrap them up and give them to people as a gift form me =D. Since I love cooking so much it really is a gift from the heart. Awww how cute!
And why am I making one now? Because I'm sure most of you know that Christmas Cake actually develops a richer flavour when it has been left to mature. I'm actually not the biggest fan of fruit cake, in fact I used to hate it (along with all other dessert-fruit fusions....). But everything tastes better when you make it yourself in my opinion ;).
I decided to use a recipe by the mother of (traditional?) home cooking in Oz - Margaret Fulton. So I've basically made the cake up to step 5 and left it to mature and ripen, and will eventually put some fondant icing over the top before I cut it up and distribute it to my friends and family. I think the cake turned out pretty nicely, however I do think it was a bit dry when I first took it out of the oven and cut a bit off to taste...hopefully this will improve on maturation. I decided to split the batter and make 2 cakes, rather than just make one huge one. It actually took about 30-45 minutes less cooking time than suggested in the recipe....but hopefully that was just because my oven is efficient =P but it was most probably because I made 2 cakes rather than one. Anyways, I'll definitely be doing an update post on how it turns out!!
Recipe by Margaret Fulton from Christmas
2 & 1/4 cups raisins, roughly chopped
2 & 1/3 cups sultanas
1 & 2/3 cups currants
6 each dried apricots, nectarines and peaches, finely chopped
3/4 cup mixed peel
1/2 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup glace cherries, halved
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup rum
250 g butter
1 cup brown sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp marmalade
2 & 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp rum or brandy, extra
500 g ready-made fondant
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 cup icing sugar
1. Toss the dried fruit, mixed peel, almonds, cherries, brandy and rum together in a large bowl, separating the fruit pieces. Cover and set aside to soak overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Grease a 24cm square cake tin. Line the base and sides with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon rind and marmalade.
3. Sift the flour, mixed spice and baking powder together. Add 2 tablespoons of the sifted mixture to the dried fruits and toss through to prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Mix the remaining flour into the creamed mixture. Fold in the fruit. At this point it is easier to mix using your hands (the mixer was overflowing =P).
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Level the top and drop the tin sharply onto the kitchen bench to settle the mixture. If your decoration is to be blanched almonds, arrange in a pattern around the top.
|For some reason i really like this picture...|
6. To cover the cake with fondant, trim the top of the cake to ensure it sits flat. Patch any holes on the cake with small pieces of fondant. Knead the fondant on a surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth. Roll to 7 mm thickness, approximately the size and shape of the top of the cake. Brush the cake with the egg white. Lift the fondant onto the cake with a rolling pin. Smooth the fondant with hands dusted with icing sugar. Trim the excess from the edge of the cake. Cut stars from scraps of fondant and decorate the cake with ribbon and stars.
|Look at that crackled browned surface!! Mmm the best bit.....|
I cut off about 1/4 of one of the cakes so we could taste test....
I know it's not a proper slice, I like to pick at my food (soz =P). This was after nearly a week of keeping the cut part in an airtight container. It actually was more flavoursome and less dry! So I can't wait to see how nice it will be in a months time!!
Enjoy!! =) xx