Posts Tagged christmas cake

Cakes for … Christmas

Scrooge as it may seem, but I’m really not into Christmas right now, given that I have most everything I need and can do without huge meals at a time when I’m trying to get rid of the extra pounds that snuck on while I wasn’t looking this year. So when the spouse tentatively suggested a no-present year, I took him enthusiastically at his word, although I did go out and buy a couple of snazzy storage jars for my non-Christmas present to myself.

But calories or not, I do do Christmas cake, which meant hours of weighing, mixing and baking, followed by several ventures of pouring whisky into the maturing fruit cake to give it something of a kick. That was a repeat venture from a few years back (have I really been doing this blog for three whole years?), although I chose a Rachel Allen recipe rather than a Delia Smith one this time.

[Full disclosure. Delia’s recipe was better. There seemed to be more fruit (maybe because currants are smaller) and less sweetness, and while I loved the idea of a baked, home-made marzipan icing, it’s a little sweet for my taste. Tastes differ. You may prefer the other way around.]

But this year I also tried my luck at a Weihnachtsstollen, the Christmas stollen I remember from my childhood as almost dry, but very buttery, and crowded with nuts and fruit.

I don’t remember ever having a recipe for this one, so used the New York Times as my inspiration, upping the ginger (of course) and reducing the butter just a teeny little bit. It started as a stick-to everything goo and morphed into a sleek, glossy dough, studded with every kind of fruit.

Let’s just say it’s seriously, seriously good.

And for those that are into Christmas, I wish you a happy, peaceful, enjoyable, stressless  Christmas.

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That Christmas cake

So it’s a month since I tried my luck with first Christmas cake for a couple of decades, and while I fed it carefully with brandy to keep it moist, I admit I did worry about whether it would actually be worth the effort. I mean let’s face it, most rich fruit cakes are pretty ho-hum, with too much cake, and not enough fruit. This one sat like a stone on the kitchen counter for a month, and I’m not even sure I cooked it the full four hours that the recipe said I should, so would it even taste good? Would it be worth the effort?

Well, at the risk of sounding smug, I’m proud to announce that it does, and it was. It’s scarily rich — half of a very small slice was plenty big enough to round off a meal — but it’s also pretty damn good, with a rich fruity texture and hardly any cake. The spouse has put in a request for more glace cherries next time around (not sure about that one) and I’m actually wondering about cutting the nuts. But we agree on the need for more mixed peel, and perhaps some crystallized ginger to add a little spice.

Those in the Toronto office get a taste tomorrow. Apologies to the rest of you.


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Nutty as a fruitcake

It turns out that the husband, unbeknownst to me, is one of about five people in North America who actually likes fruit cake. He eats his neat, and I serve mine with sharp Cheddar cheese. No wonder the jeans are getting tighter.

But tight jeans or no,  it seemed an excuse to revive a tradition from few decades back when my mother and I made fruit cakes from scratch and then doused the finished product with alcohol until it almost wobbled off the table. And those were seriously good cakes. But the last one I actually remember was on my 21st birthday. (If memory serves me serves me correctly it arrived in the mail, and then formed part of a party that started with tea (and cake) around 4pm, and ended when they kicked us out of the Selly Oak curry house at 4am. I digress.)

Of course the recipe for that cake, from the 1960-something Kenwood Chef recipe book, is lost in the mists of time, so I was flying blind.

After a lot of internet surfing and a trip through the memory lane library, I settled on a recipe from Delia Smith, and while it seemed heavy on the currants and light on the alcohol, it’s not a book that’s let me down, so I hit the market for mixed peel and other fruits and decided to give it a try.

Let’s just say that making a fruit cake is pretty much an all-day adventure, given that it needs to bake for 4-5 hours in a really cool oven. By four hours it smelled done, and a skewer came out dry, so I decided to risk it. It had its first brandy bath today, and we’ll repeat that every couple of weeks til mid-December.

The proof of the pudding (or the cake) is in the eating,  so you’ll have to watch this space for feedback.

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