Last Sunday I spent the day baking the first of my Christmas baking - 9 Christmas cakes. I started the process a month ago by digging out my special Christmas fruit jar and filling it with dried currants, sultanas, raisins glace cherries, candied orange peel, chopped dried apricots, glace peaches and a whole bottle of brandy. Each day during the intervening month, I have turned and shaken the huge jar to ensure that the 6 lbs+ of fruit has a chance to absorb the brandy and become plump and luscious!
Sunday found me lining an assortment of cake tins with layers of baking paper and setting them aside before I got out my huge bread making earthenware bowl. I creamed together a pound of butter and 3 cups of brown sugar until it was light and fluffy before adding golden syrup and 10 eggs. I sifted together cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and allspice with the flour and added it to the egg mixture along with the brandy sodden fruit. A cup of blanched almonds was stirred in before I ladled the mixture into the various sized cake tins.
My love of the tradition of making and giving away home-made Christmas cakes started, when I was a wee girl, I perched on a stool at my grandmother's scrubbed kitchen table, carefully stirring the mixture and decorating the tops of all of her 3 dozen cakes with almonds and cherries.
I have maintained the Wallace family tradition by using her recipe and always baking the cakes in the last week of November, to alow them time to 'mature' before wrapping them as gifts. As they slowly cooked in the slow oven on Sunday, the heavenly aroma of spices mingled with fruit wafted through our home and garden. Once each cake was cooked, I removed the paper lining and drizzled more brandy on to the hot cake before wrapping each one in foil and storing in an airtight container.
Each cake will be lovingly wrapped in purple foil, decorated with a gold ribbon bow and tied up in cellophane to be given as a unique gift for special family members and friends, many of who have been recieving a Christmas cake from me since 1969 when I first started my own cake tradition. I warn each recipient NOT to eat their cake in front of an open flame and it is certainly an Adult Only treat aqnd not to be given to children.
What Christmas traditions have been passed down through your family through several generations?
Thanks for your comments Charles. Yes the Christmas cake is very special as for 4 1/2 lbs of fruit, there is only 21/2 cups of flour in the mixture to kind of bind the fruit together. You only need a small slice!