It’s that time of year again when Christmas cakes, puddings and mincemeat are on everyone’s mind. I'll post in a day or two about an alternative Christmas Pud and I’ve already made my mincemeat; so that just leaves the cake.
After making a cake every Christmas for about 30 (!) years, in recent years I haven’t bothered. We used to get to the middle of January and still have half a huge cake staring at us, so it kept getting thrown away. Trouble is, I really missed making a cake for Christmas; there’s something about it….soaking the fruit in brandy, grating the nutmeg, double lining the tin… all the silly little rituals that I absolutely love.
So this year I’ve made a cake once again! I’ve always made Delia’s recipe in the past, but I came across a recipe by Nigel Slater for 'A Small, Rich Fruitcake'; the word ‘Small’ jumped out at me…
I rarely follow a recipe to the letter (actually, I rarely follow recipes at all!) but in this case I broke the habit of a lifetime and did exactly as instructed. Things weren’t quite as small as I thought they’d be; in fact, there was so much mixture that I made two cakes in a 1lb loaf tin and a 15cm round tin! However, they look gorgeous and they smell just as they should….of Christmas.
I’m not a big fan of icing so I think I’ll just put a layer of marzipan on the top and then decorate with fruit and nuts and an apricot glaze. In the meantime my little cakes are tucked up snugly in an airtight tin in the pantry, being fed a little brandy from time to time just to keep them happy….
Incidentally, I have a plan to make Christmas last a bit longer this year - I’m thinking in terms of a foodie ‘Advent Calendar’ whereby we have a really nice little something to eat every day leading up to Christmas.
You see, even if you include Christmas Eve, there’s only three days in which to cram all that lovely food so, since there are far too many things I like, the best thing seems to be to spread it over a longer period.
It might be something along the lines of some lovely cheeses, crusty bread and pickles on the 1st; a mince pie and some mulled fruit punch on the 2nd; Not Sausage rolls and homemade chutney on the 3rd; a piece of Stollen with coffee on the 4th…..are you getting the idea?
If enough people spread the word I think this is something that could catch on….well, it certainly will in this house!