My mother made the best fruit Christmas cakes and she must have followed the same recipe when she made each of her three daughters’ wedding cakes as well. What I remember was that they were dense, dark, full of fruit and nuts, bound together with a little ‘cake’ and steeped with brandy. So they were very, very moist.
Unsurprisingly, my desire is to try to replicate her cakes. I’ve no idea what recipe she followed so I borrow all the best ingredients from several recipe books at once. I want a cake to be loaded with fruit, candied peel, nuts and spice. For 2010’s Christmas cake I used cranberries instead of cherries just to see if it would make any difference. I soaked the fruit and nuts overnight with brandy and, after a month just before icing, laced the cake again liberally with rum.
The end result is an intensely sweet and fruity hit, and since the cake is so solid thin slices are easy to cut. Just as well, really, as I can only really manage a little of this luxuriously mixture at a time. Perfect with a refreshing cut of tea after a long and bracing walk in the winter time, or pretty good when I’m tired after a late night and I need a ‘sugary’ boost to lift my energy levels.
My husband works away, and I like only to share the cake when he’s at home. It means that with the cutting of thin slices; reserving the treat for times when we most appreciate it; and his going away the cake can last a very long time indeed. I also fear the moment when the last piece is finished as there’ll be nothing to look forward to until the next Christmas!
We ‘eeked’ 2009’s cake right through the year until we ate the last right at the start of December 2010! You’re shocked – aren’t you? But we’d actually put it away and forgotten all about it for months. Coming across the last quarter was actually a happy discovery. It had dried just a little but still tasted just as good. Thanks to the liberal quantities of rum and brandy which preserved it so well..
I’m beginning to think that ‘Christmas’ cake is a misnomer. Christmas – having been stuffed as good as the turkey – is not the time I can squeeze in any cake. Plus my husband was away throughout December that really wanted to save it for his return in January.
You’ll see that’s he is back (Yippee!) and the first slice with the family is a New Year welcome.
I’ve been making Christmas cakes for 10 years now with designs based on the ‘Twelve days of Christmas” song. Last year’s was loaded with ‘nine ladies dancing’ but I was in the mood for something simpler. There’s a danger that trying to paint ‘ten lords leaping all over a cake that they end up looking like a nasty attack of the Graham Norton look-a-like convention…
However, if you want to see the previous 9 designs have a look at Beyond the Pasty Facebook page.
Happy 2011 and bets on which month we’ll eat the last slice?
- Ten ‘Cornish’ best for the Christmas table. (beyondthepasty.wordpress.com)
- Home-made Christmas cake? It’s so bad we’ve thrown it in the bin (dailymail.co.uk)