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Sunday, 27 October 2013

CHRISTMAS "TO DO LIST" ~ CHRISTMAS CAKE

Good Afternoon to you,


Can you feel the slight change in the air? Can you feel a little tingle of excitement mounting?


I certainly can, and the reason for this is, Christmas is coming. I know it is a little way off, but, I have to tell you, I really do feel a tad excited.


I love Christmas. 
I love going to evening Church Service
I love welcoming family and friends
I love decorating our Christmas tree and decorating our home
I love buying gifts for family and friends and YES,
I even love wrapping the gifts
I love choosing the wrapping paper, ribbons and bows
I love giving gifts
I love choosing Christmas cards
I love cooking the Christmas ham
I love making our Christmas pudding
I love baking our Christmas Cake

So I think you get the gist, I really love Christmas and today is the start of it all.  Today we are going to be making a Christmas Cake.



This is just the beginning for this Christmas Cake, as it is going to be dressed for Christmas, much nearer the time. 

Even though it is the end of October, I always play Christmas music while I am making my Christmas cake, as it really puts me in the festive mood and reminds me of things to come.


I love Christmas Carols sung by choirs and I'm sure you will be familiar with all of the carols which I am playing, such as, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", "Once in Royal David's City" and "O Little Town Of Bethlehem", but this is just a few, as this Cd has 15 wonderful Christmas Carols, sung by some amazing choirs.

The Wells Cathedral Choir are singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and whilst I am putting on my apron and organising all my ingredients, I am singing along with this carol.  

Just a word before we start,  there are just a couple of things I would like to say. Firstly, I know the list of ingredients seems endless, but please don't be put off.  Gather your ingredients, weigh them all, put them aside and then just tick each ingredient as you use it, then you will know that you have included each and every one. 

Secondly, we need to start this cake the day before, as all the dried fruits need to be soaked in brandy and left for 24 hours. Some of my friends leave the dried fruits soaking for three days, but I find 24 hours is fine.

I have weighed my ingredients, so I am ready to begin.

INGREDIENTS

175g  raisins
350g  currants
500g  sultanas
200g   glace cherries cut in half
250g  unsalted softened butter
100g  light brown sugar
100g  demerara sugar
250g self raising flour
100g  ground almonds
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 large eggs 
1 tablespoon of black treacle
1/4 teaspoon of salt
150 ml  of brandy

METHOD


Butter and line a 23cm round cake tin with a double layer of parchment paper

You will need extra parchment paper to place around the outside of the cake tin.  Also a length of string, to keep the parchment paper in place .

Preheat the oven to 140C. I have a fan assisted oven and I reduced  the temperature by 20 degrees and baked this cake slowly at 120C.

Now, here comes the fun part,



Place the raisins, currants, sultanas
and glace cherries
in a large bowl.

Pour over 150 ml  of brandy (or rum or whisky)
whichever you prefer

Stir

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave
to steep for 24 hours.

THE NEXT DAY



In a separate large bowl whisk together
the butter

and


the sugar
until  paler and fluffy


Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl



Sift the flour and salt


with the cinnamon and mixed spice


Add the whisked eggs,  a little at a time,
to the butter and sugar mixture,
alternating between a tablespoon of flour and
a some of the egg
 (adding the flour prevents the mixture curdling)
and continue whisking.


When all the eggs have been added,
fold in the rest of the sifted flour, cinnamon and mixed spice

Fold in the ground almonds


Add the black treacle and mix well.
I find the easiest way, to get the treacle out of the
jar is to dip my spoon
into a cup of hot water.  Leave it for a second
or two, dry the spoon and then dip it into the treacle,
and this allows the treacle to run off the spoon easily.

At this point you will find the mixture is a little stiff,
but don't worry as there is liquid in the 
dried fruits which you are going to add next.


Add the fruit a little at a time
to the cake mixture
I add a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time
as this way, I find it easier to incorporate all the fruit


Add the mixture to the buttered and lined
cake tin
and smooth the top with a spatula.



Now is the time to double line the outside
of the cake tin.  Hold the parchment paper securely 
in place by
using a length of string,  tied around the cake tin.

 Bake
for 2 hours - 30 minutes 

  Insert a skewer 
into the centre of the cake,  and
when it comes out clean
the Christmas Cake is cooked.


Now, the timing really does depend on your oven,
as all ovens vary, as I have known this Christmas Cake
to take over 3 hours in ovens which I have used previously.
What I would say, is, it might take a little longer
and if the top of  the cake is browning too quickly,
then cut a round of parchment paper and
place over the top of the cake.




I found I did not have to do this as my 
Christmas Cake baked to become a
rich brown colour



Before the cake cools,  add 1 tablespoon
of brandy and drizzle over the cake.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin,
then release the cake from the tin,
remove the parchment paper and
place the cake on a rack to make sure it is 
completely cooled.

When the cake has completely cooled,
wrap in parchment paper, then
wrap in tin foil and store in a cool,
dry place.

Once a week, add another tablespoonful
of brandy.  Allow the brandy to soak in,
then wrap  the cake up again.


Whilst the cake is baking, your house will be filled with the anticipation of things to come, and you will have a home full of smiling faces as everyone will know, there is a Christmas treat waiting for them to enjoy.



Can you guess who this is, waiting patiently for Christmas to arrive?

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining,






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