If you are anything like me, you’ll be feeling a bit behind with your Christmas preparations… but with food, it is never too late to start cooking and eating!
Wow! What a busy year 2019 has been…
But whether you make mince pies on Christmas afternoon and eat them hot from the oven, or eat your Christmas dinner on Boxing Day, it will still taste great (and who knows, you might start a whole new family tradition!)
I’m just making my Christmas cake right now. According to the recipe I could have made my cake up to three months ago to give it a chance to mature… but the smells that are filling my kitchen are of dried fruits and brandy, and altogether I’m feeling rather festive and guilt-free about the timing!
The recipe I use is more or less from the Good Housekeeping cookbook, which is a bit of an English stalwart in terms of cookbooks, and has lots of recipes that I’ve grown up with.
It is basically a pound cake (equal amounts of fat, flour and sugar) with extras. And what extras! Mixed peel, chopped nuts, mixed spice, brandy – I defy anyone to take a whiff of the cake mixture and not feel Christmassy.
Traditional Christmas Cake
- 250g raisins
- 75g currants
- 150g sultanas
- 150g chopped mixed peel
- 5 tbsp brandy
- 225g softened butter
- rind of a lemon
- 225g sugar (muscovado if you can find it – Billington’s do one)
- 4 eggs
- 2 tbsp treacle
- 225g plain white flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 125g chopped mixed nuts (brazil, almond, hazelnut)
- 50g ground almonds
- Put all the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the brandy. Stir and leave on the bench to soak in. Turn the oven on to 150°C.
- Find a deep 20cm cake tin and grease and line the bottom and sides.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with the lemon rind, then add the sugar, then beat in the eggs one by one (sift in a bit of the flour if it is starting to split).
- Stir in the treacle, then sift in half the flour and spices. Stir gently. Add the nuts and ground almonds, then fold in the brandied fruit and the rest of the flour.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and flatten a bit on the top (put aside the mixing bowl for a child or other person to lick – an important part of the overall experience).
- Tie plain brown paper around the outside of the cake tin with string (it will cook more evenly) and bake in the oven for 3 hours. I put a skewer into the centre of the cake to see if it is done (if any uncooked cake mixture is sticking to the end of the skewer it needs a bit more cooking).
- Leave to cool in the tin and decorate or eat as you wish. Merry Christmas!