Sneak preview of this year’s Christmas cake:
I didn’t make a Christmas cake last year as I was going to New Zealand, and for reasons of biosecurity you’re not allowed to take food into the country. So this is the first cake I’ve made in two years, and the first in this kitchen too.
My Christmas cake is a little different from most. Like all good New Zealanders (although some would argue I’m not a good New Zealander) I follow the Edmonds Cookbook recipe, a nice rich cake with five eggs in it. However, I vary up the fruit a lot. I’m not a big fan of sultanas, raisins and currants. I calculated the cake has about 2.1 kilos of fruit in it, however I know exactly how much my cake tin will hold so reduced this to 1.9. This was made up of 500g mixed fruit (sultanas, currants, peel), 500g of chopped Otago dried apricots my Mum sent from New Zealand (they have a very strong flavour unlike other dried apricots), with the rest made up of peel, glace cherries, and chopped crystallised ginger. Sometimes I put nuts in but my nut-phobic brother is visiting this Christmas so I only put them on top (don’t worry, no danger of anaphylaxis so he can just pick them off the top).
Then my secret ingredient: I soak the fruit for several days in Winter Pimm’s. Winter Pimm’s is brandy-based and has orange and spices added, so it’s perfectly Christmassy. Slightly less than 1.9kg of fruit actually made it into the cake as some of it mysteriously disappeared as I was giving the fruit its daily stir…
Speaking of stirring, the Italian flatmate was called upon to stir the cake and make his first ever Christmas cake wish. “How long do I have to stir this for?” he moaned at first, then didn’t want to relinquish the spoon!
The knitting needle came out of the cake clean after only three hours of cooking, which was surprising. But it looks fine. I’ll just have to wait and see how it tastes.
And you’ll have to wait for the finished picture as it’s wrapped up in the cupboard right now. It tends to stay very moist so I don’t usually feed the cake with more booze. I’m sure I’ll find a use for the rest of the Pimm’s!