They say the older you get the more like your mother you become and I found that out this week. My good friend Deb and I were discussing the Christmas cakes we’d just made and hers sounded very unusual. Unusual, because it’s the first time I’ve heard of the fruit being soaked overnight in strong coffee and then a block of chocolate added – no sugar, no butter – she assures me it tastes great. So like Mum, I had to ask ‘can I please have the recipe’. She got recipe from a co-volunteer at the local Op. Shop who makes it all the time and so the cycle continues…………………..
I always marinate the fruit for my Christmas Cake in brandy and then slosh a bit more onto the cake hot from the oven. It makes a wonderfully rich cake which is great at Christmas, but is a bit too rich for other times of the year. This recipe has a great tip to substitute the brandy with cold tea. I’ve turned a failed Christmas Pudding into a cake by doing that, but this is the recipe I’ve come across that suggests using it from the beginning.
The first Christmas after I got married, my husband had to work on Christmas Day so I met him at lunchtime and we had a picnic lunch in the Botanical Gardens, which was a lovely way to celebrate our first Christmas together. That first Christmas also meant my first Christmas cake baking effort. It was a disaster, a soggy undercooked cake – ruined. When I told Mum she smiled and told me to mashing it all up in a bowl add a cup of cold tea and recook it as a pudding and to this day I’m still amazed that it worked. My cooking improved somewhat after that and this Dutch Fruit Cake became the recipe I used for many years. Adding the mixed peel and nuts and brushing the cake with brandy while still hot makes the cake a little more Christmasy.DUTCH FRUIT CAKE
- 125g butter
- 250g sugar
- 1 cup cold water
- 125g currants
- 250g raisins
- 375g sultanas
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- lemon juice
- 2 eggs well beaten
- 1 cup Self Raising Flour
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 dessertspoon treacle or golden syrup
- ½ teaspoon bi-carb soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon of boiling water
Line a cake tin with a layer of brown paper and a layer of baking paper. Boil together butter, sugar, water, fruit, spices, lemon juice for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool stir in beaten eggs, flours, treacle and lastly bi-carb soda dissolved in boiling water. Bake in a moderate oven 180o for 2 hours. Mixed peel and nuts can be added if like. For a Christmas touch – when still hot from the oven pierce the cake with a skewer and brush with brandy.
This is the recipe I usually use to make my Christmas Cake. Back in 2001 I doubled the recipe to make a two tiered cake for Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary, which I had decorated in the 1940s style of their wedding, it looked and tasted great. The recipe came to me from a friend who made it as a Wedding Cake for her daughter. As you can see it was passed onto her from her friend ‘Audrey’ so it has quite a history. I always add the extra prunes and apricots and it makes a lovely cake that lasts as long as you can keep the family away from it.
Last weekend I made our Christmas Pudding so this weekend it’s time to make the Christmas cake. Usually I make my cake a bit earlier than this, but I decided to make this Festive Fruit Cake and it doesn’t need to be done as early as the more traditional cakes. I haven’t made it for some years, the ingredients are a bit expensive as it’s full of glace fruit and brazil nuts, but my husband really likes it. The original recipe was given to Mum by her best friend Tuppy, so I’ve always known it as Tuppy’s Christmas Cake.