December 8, 2009

Christmas Cake In A Month Of 50's.

This is my fiftieth post. I was kind of hoping to hold out till next week and have it coincide with my fiftieth birthday.

Alas, not to be. It is two thirty am and I cannot sleep. My mind is occupied with all the things I need to be doing. There are still some guests I have yet to invite. I need to get started on the veggies that must be roasted and left to marinate, so that by the 20th they will be loaded with flavour and bursting with zingyiness. Which veggies? The beetroot, the eggplant and the capsicum. Either tomorrow or the next day. No later. I mean it.

I made four calico tablecloths yesterday and four lovely country apple green table runners to go over the tops. Together with some table decorations in the way of citronella candles in large glass vases, chunky carafes, small green glass vases with fresh flowers, upturned terracotta pots holding sticks, washed rocks from the river and further wooden sticks and bark, the table was looking very rustic yet warm and inviting. At least that is coming together and looking very nice.

I need to make a couple of chocolate mud cakes. Probably one for my actual birthdate and a larger one for the party date. Righto, that's on the agenda as well. Speaking of cake, I made a Christmas cake about three weeks ago and I made the fatal mistake of cutting it about seven days ago. Half of it is gone. No kidding. And I'm ashamed to say I have consumed most of it.

Why should I be ashamed? It is absolutely gorgeous and I am loving it. There is simply no comparison to a storebought fruit cake. I don't care what you say. There just isn't. A homemade fruit cake is about as luxurious as it gets. Perhaps because there are so few people that I know who actually bake one these days. My mother-in-law still does. Several infact.

I am particularly pleased with my christmas cake this time round. I have made a few alterations and I'm delighted with the results. I have always enjoyed a moist fruit cake, but I have really overloaded the cake with fruit in the past making it too moist. However, there is nothing worse than a dry fruit cake, burnt around the edges and overcooked and overworked. It's not easy. Still, I haven't felt my version has been too crash hot the last couple of years. Sure it has been delicious but it has also been too difficult to cut without breaking up and quite simply there is just too much fruit.

In my lastest effort I decided to reduce the amount of fruit, made sure not to overcook it and wrapped it up soon after brushing generously with extra brandy. The enclosed steam probably helped with retaining the cake's moisture. And surprisingly enough it cut beautifully. It is not crumbly and the ratio of cake to fruit is much more to my liking. It's a keeper. So I guess I better get this recipe in writing before I forget exactly what it is I did. I don't remember as well as I used to. Would that have anything to do with turning 50?

Mariana's Christmas Cake

500gm sultanas
125gm raisins, chopped
125gm prunes, chopped
125gm dried dates, chopped
125gm glace cherries, chopped
rind of one orange
juice of one orange
2tbsp orange marmalade
1/2 cup brandy
250gm butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
extra glace cherries & blanched almonds for decoration
extra brandy

**Amendment on this November 12th, 2013 - I used 400gm sultanas instead of 500gm. Much better in my opinion as the cake cuts better and not quite as laden with fruit.

Place the first nine ingredients all in a glass or ceramic bowl. Mix thoroughly so that all the fruit has been well coated with the liquid. Seal tightly with some cling film and place in a cool, undrafty spot. I soaked my fruit for about one week agitating it a couple of times to mix it up and soak evenly. I cannot describe how wonderful the smell was each time I unveiled the cling film. It is easy to overlook this step. I have at times. But the soaking of the fruit really is essential for a plump, juicy, voluptuous and spicy cake. I wish you could smell it.

Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl. Make sure the butter is fairly soft but definitely not melted. Mix till the two are only just combined. Really. Only just combined. Do not be tempted to keep mixing. Add this to your fruit and ensure that all the fruit is covered with the butter mixture.

Take four lovely free range eggs and mix well with a fork.

Add this to the butter and fruit mixture.

Using a spatula or indeed your hands, ensure the eggs are well incorporated.

Sift together the flours and ground cinnamon and mixed spice. The grated nutmeg may be too coarse to sift. I added it directly onto the mixture.

Ensure all the ingredients have been well distributed and mixed together. No flour spots please. No need to mix the heck out of it either. Just mix till you see it has all come together.

Grease and line your cake tin. I used double baking paper. Take your time to line the tin so that there is no buckling or uneveness with the paper. You may as well carry on with the love and care now that you have come this far.

Carefully drop the mixture into the tin. Using a large spoon or your hands, spread the mixture till even. Drop the cake tin from a height, not too high, so that it helps to knock out some air bubbles and settle the mixture.

Decorate the cake top with blanched almonds and glace cherries if desired.

I baked my cake for three hours and fifteen minutes at 130 degrees celcius in a conventional oven, not fan forced. I brushed the hot cake with about 3 tablespoons of extra brandy. After ten minutes I pressed the baking paper sticking above the tin over the cake and covered the tin with a large teatowel. Leave overnight.

The next day, I removed the cake still encased in the baking paper and wrapped securely in foil and cling film then wrapped the lot in newspaper. Try and resist temptation for as long as you can to allow those flavours to further develop. It is well and truly worth it. Christmas Cake made with love.

Happy 50th Post to me!


  1. Oh Mariana.....I am so excited about your party. Just imagining the table set for dinner, it sounds delightful. Apple green is one of my favourite colours. Keep us posted with the menu and don't forget not to work too hard on the day and have a fabulous time.

    Join the over fifties insomniacs club :-( I swear I have not slept a full night in much to little time...and you think about it in the dark, quiet hours of night. sigh. Such is life.

    I am heading down to the city this afternoon with your cake recipe in hand and calling in to "Simply Good" enroute to stock up with supplies. This recipe sounds so easy and the cut cake looks yummy....just the right mix of fruit and cake and so moist looking. Spot on girl....well done:-)

    BTW CONGRATULATIONS ON FIFTY WONDERFUL POSTS ***********************************************

  2. Hello Mariana!
    I know how you feel about having so much to do. The holidays make it crazy. Happy almost birthday! Congrats on the 50th post too! The raisins and prunes look so plump! I have never tried making fruit cake I think this will be the year to try it. It looks terrific!

  3. First of all that cake is so gorgeous with the almonds n cherries on the top. looks moist and just so good.mmmmm...

    second...i wish I could see the calico tablecloths that you made. and 4 of them?! wow and all the other decorations too!

    I can imagine the planning thats going thru your head...but its fun isnt it?...I too enjoy planning parties esp the the table setting and the enjoyable....hope u take lots of pictures to share.

    and happy fiftieth birthday! hope you have a great time :)))))) enjoy...50 is good!

  4. I know just what you mean about store-bought fruitcakes... Oddly enough I have one in my cabinet that's been re-gifted throughout the family since sometime in the 70's I'd say! Great for a laugh, but give me homemade for dessert! Yours looks especially lovely with your decorative touches.

  5. As everyone has suspected, holiday fruitcakes really ARE dense enough to stop a speeding bullet. (With video.) Can a Fruitcake Stop a Bullet?

  6. You sound more excited about my party than I do Linda. I plan to enjoy it, however I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. At least I feel relaxed about it all. I am no where near as finnicky about things as I once used to be. Tar for the lovely welcome into the fifties. My dear neighbour always says, "I'll have lots of time to sleep when I'm dead, so the less time spent in bed the better." Looks like less sleep is on the cards. hehe.
    Ps: I shall be curious to hear about how the cake turns out. Mine is nearly all gone and I have another batch of fruit soaking.

    Hello Baking Monster - so nice of you to drop by. Yes it is very moist and I would encourage you to have a go at a fruit cake. Your other baking skills for someone so young are amazing. This will be a lot easier than you think so don't hold back.

    Oh you are too kind zurin. Thanks for the bday wishes and it is fun preparing for the table deco. It really does create the initial atmosphere when people arrive and when some effort has been taken, I feel it sends a message to the guests that they are welcome and worthy of being a little spoilt.

    Glad you found my picture appealing Chelsea and I absolutely agree with homemade any day. And that applies to more than just fruitcake.

    I don't know Colon. I think a bullet would get through mine, but I am really not prepared to test it out. Way too much time, effort and expense goes into a fruitcake for me to consider "shooting" it.

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  8. Thankyou for the lovely receipe. Just made it and it looks and smells devine. A good copy of what you'rs looks like; )
    I have a fan forced oven so cooked at 110 C and the skewer came out clean at 2hrs 45 mins.
    Thankyou again and Merry Christmas!

    1. Oooh sorry Bleph10 - have only just now seen your comment. Thanks for sharing the positive feedback - I'm most pleased it worked out for you. It does smell nice doesn't it. Just a word about the sultanas - for my last cake I put in 400gm of sultanas reducing the overall fruit. I was really happy with that and will continue to do so in future. x