Suddenly December 1st came around and I realised I hadn’t baked a Christmas cake and I decided to get a move on since I have family visiting for Christmas. No dramas here, that is where the ‘fast’ boiled fruit cake comes in handy.
I left behind my trusty boiled fruit cake recipe that I have been using for more years than I care to remember. Can’t believe I never ever got around to putting it on a file in the computer. So I searched for some recipes online and came up with three that sounded trustworthy. I opted for Lyndey Milan’s mum’s boiled fruit cake with just a couple of additions of my own. A teaspoon of Quatre Epices, that’s four spices to you and I and some milk at the end when the mixture looked too stiff.
My main worry was baking it in an oven that I am still getting used to and it is unlikely that it has ever been used for a big fat long slow cake recipe.
I headed into the St Helens health food shop and was helped by the owner to find every ingredient I wanted but when it came to red glace cherries I baulked – they are simply balls of sugar and that red food colouring! I found a packet of red cranberries, preservative free and no artificial colours. For 125g it cost $7.95 not exactly a cheap substitute. I normally decorate the top with almonds but Lyndey’s mum says pecans and I thought why not go with that for a change. The cost of my cake is around $25 and since I ensured that all the ingredients are preservative free and I cooked it using half organic wholewheat flour I am happy with the price.
For anyone who doesn’t know who Lyndey is – she is one of Australia’s most ebullient cooking identities. I reckon if she is still using her mum’s recipe it must have passed the test of time.
Using my big red pasta bowl, I soaked the dried fruit overnight in brandy and yesterday, working around the builder in my kitchen, the cake went into the oven. It cooked perfectly at 160 degrees celcius. I took on board the recipe’s advice (it is there for a reason and you should not make a shortcut here) and made three layers of paper on the base, one of which is brown paper. It takes the worry out of the base burning. The cake is photographed sitting on foil, not getting a suntan and definitely not the way I plan to present it. I have a holly tree outside so there will be real holly on top this year.
My next challenge is making a Christmas pudding. I have made plenty of steamed puddings but haven’t ever made the heavy fruit pud before as we are usually in the torrid tropics every Christmas. I will let you know how that turns out but before I do I am heading off to Hobart for some shopping and to track down some new ingredients. Roz