Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let them eat (Christmas) Cake!

One of my favourite parts of the run-up to Christmas is making Christmas cake. I am not the biggest fan of eating it, given it is summer and all, and it is suited far more to winter. But it does keep a good long time so it's possible to have the best of both worlds.
This year I have made two types. The Embroidenator has a real soft spot for the fig and chocolate version I do - it has only figs, prunes, ginger, apricot and dried peaches in it, and a lot of chocolate, and lots of orange zest, and the fruit is soaked in green ginger wine and cointreau. I made four of this type, two little ones and two medium ones.
The much larger batch is your standard one. This has good quality cake mixed fruit, to which I add prunes, ginger, apricots, peach, dried cranberries and dried, not glace, cherries, and dates. The fruit was soaked in black beer. Last year it was Guiness, but this year it is a combo of Tuatara Black and 8 Wired's iStout, at the advice from the very clever beer guy at Moore Wilson's liquor store. It tickles me that he really took the whole thing quite seriously instead of dissing the crazy cake lady. I may have to gift him one!
So, today was Cake Day. I left the shop just after 1pm to get home and get started. It's a big job and there's no rushing it. After all, the point is to enjoy the process.
I start by lining all the tins with brown paper and silicon paper. This is a few of them.
I set the Kenwood onto creaming all that butter, sugar, melted chocolate, marmalade, spices and extracts. Then the eggs, a little at a time.

Fig cake fruit I soaked in a 6 litre stock pot but for the big mix, I didn't have anything big enough, so I was chuffed to find this huge food safe sealable bucket at Moore Wilson's - it holds 15 litres so this year it was only half full.
The Kenwood is too small to hold the whole thing, so I tip the fruit into this big gardening tote - it is soft sided and has handles -of course I never use it for gardening or anything dirty - for the rest of the year I use it as a place to put scraps of fabric I want to save from my sewing. I think it holds 50 litres. Anyway, I tip all the flour and rising stuff in with the fruit and dredge it thoroughly, then tip the creamed mix in and blend them together. David does this if he is home as it takes more strength than I have to use a spoon, so I washed my hands and got stuck in! It worked really well, though I hate mixing with my hands.
Most of the second batch tinned up, we're just waiting for the oven to be free.
And finally at 9.30pm,the last ones come out of the oven. Here they all are. 14 cakes, ranging from 4-8 inches. I used to make bigger ones but I find a lot of smaller ones more useful and easier to distribute.
All up I used:
2 lb butter, same of sugar
1 lb chocolate
22 eggs
8oz marmalade
3.5 lb flour
13.5 lbs dried fruits
plus all the other flavours, spices etc. And the beer, cointreau and wine.

So now they just need to cool, get fed some brandy, put on cards, decorated, wrapped in cellophane and distributed.
 And I need to decide which ones to keep! :)


  1. Can you ship to the USA? They look so good :)

  2. Woah! That is a great effort and seriously MrsC they both sound so good, it would be nigh on impossible to chose. I mean; figs, chocolate, ginger, Stones green ginger, cointreau, prunes, cranberries, dates, cherries; a cornucopia of yumminess, I'm drooling as I read this! Bless your little cake mix-encrusted socks for your ever loving awesomeness and generosity. Big loves and seasons greetings, MadameO

  3. I love the alternative mixing bowls. I had to use my wok as no bowl i own was big enough - next time I will think of the small plastic storage bucket instead.

  4. The fig and chocolate version sound delicious!!!

  5. Dear Mrs. C.,
    Lord love a duck, that is a great lot of batter there. The results look good. Personally, I like Christmas cake a good bit, but in tiny servings since it is so rich. The flavors of chocolate and apricot? Wow, that's new and yummy-sounding.

    Happy nibbling, now and later,


    1. The apricots and choc put deep and bright notes into the normal flavours, which is why I like them. I'll nibble a piece in your honour, Natalie!

  6. Wow! You are a cake machine, lady! x