It may be cold and damp, but Christmas is in the air! And time for an annual tradition:
Baking the Christmas cake. I’m on the other side of the world from the people who usually eat it, but I’m going to take it to New York with me. I tend to depart from usual Christmas cake baking convention, and while my cake is based on the tried and true Edmonds cookbook recipe (how many expat Kiwis have this book in their kitchen library?), I tend to gourmet it up a little. Plus, I’m not that into sultanas and raisins. This year, we have:
- a small packet of mixed fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, peel)
- chopped Otago dried apricots (best apricots in the world, I imported these especially for my cake!)
- dried cranberries
- chopped dates
- Provencal glace cherries
- Italian mixed peel
- I forgot the crystallised ginger, but will add some tomorrow!
- cinnamon sticks (I will take these out when the fruit is done soaking)
- Madagascan vanilla pod (ditto)
I tend to soak my fruit in freshly squeezed orange juice and whatever alcohol I can lay my hands on; one particularly successful cake involved Frangelico, Cointreau, and dark rum. Last year I went with the traditional brandy. This year I don’t have an extensive alcohol cabinet so I wandered around the supermarket waiting for inspiration to strike. And strike it did! I discovered Pimm’s No. 3 Winter Cup – a brandy based concoction with orange peel and spices. Smells like Christmas! Right now I am really wishing there was such a thing as Smell-o-Vision so you could all sniff along with me.
Now I’m enjoying my “one for the cook” served with warm apple juice, snuggling under my lap blanket and trying to keep warm!