For as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved with Christmas baking.
My first recollection was around the age of eight. Both my parents baked, and they both involved me in their cooking.
Christmas was the biggest bake of all. The aunties all arrived to help with the cakes and puddings, and the whole house was a flurry of people. This was back in the good old days of hanging the plum pudding from the roof.
I still can’t believe we don’t do that anymore!
My latest book, The Barber’s Christmas Bride sees mail order bride Allie Jones preparing to give her new husband the best Christmas he’s ever endured. He’s given up on Christmas, and she wants to make it special for him.
Allie bakes and cooks right throughout the story, but Christmas baking is what she does the best. In light of that, I thought I’d share a family Christmas Cake recipe that has been passed down for generations. This is the same cake I’ve used for over 40 years!
Into a large basin or mixing bowl place the following mixture:
1 kilogram (or 2 lb) mixed fruit
2 cups (1 lb) brown sugar
2tablespoons each Sherry and Orange juice, or if preferred, 4 tablespoons of either. (May need up to half a cup of liquid if the mix is too dry. Ingredients need to be moist.)
Stir well and soak overnight, covered in plastic wrap to prevent mixture drying out.
**If unable to soak overnight, soak for minimum of two hours**
Next day, stir to separate any ingredients that have melded together overnight. There is no problem if they are stuck, it’s just easier to mix if you separate the ingredients at this point.
Now add 1/2 teaspoon each of the following spices:
Nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and bicarbonate soda.
Mix until all ingredients are combined.
Add 2 oz (60 grams) chopped almonds. Mix well.
Combine 250g (1/2 lb) butter and 1/2 cup (4 oz) milk. Heat in saucepan over slow heat only until butter is melted. Do not allow to boil.
Add butter/milk mixture to fruit etc, then add:
3 beaten eggs,
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence,
1/2 teaspoon lemon essence
Now slowly add 3 cups plain flour, mixing between each addition. Blend in well and pour into a
(I use 9
Bake275 degrees F (140 degrees C) for approx 5 1/2 to 6 hours. (May take less time in fan-forced oven – anything from 4 1/2 to 5 hours) Cooks best if
Do not open oven door for at least 2 1/2 hours.