It can’t have escaped your notice that we’re now on the countdown to Christmas. Halloween has been and gone (and after tonight so will have bonfire night), Christmas adverts have been on the television for a while, the Christmas editions of the food magazines are on the shelves, the shops are bulging with gifts and the red cups are in the Starbucks coffee shops. There’s no doubt about it now guys.
I’ve decided that this year, for the first time, I’m going to make a Christmas cake. I’ve never bothered before because, firstly, whilst I do like it I’m not a huge fan, and secondly, Rob’s mum makes us one every year so there’s no need for me to do so. But I love Christmas, and I love cooking, so I think it’s about time I joined in this tradition that bakers and home makers all over the world look forward to each year. The preparation and activities in the run up to Christmas are all part of the excitement for me so the Christmas cake making is surely something I can miss out on no longer. Anyway Rob and I have taken this week off work for a well deserved break so I have some time on my hands, and what better way to spend it than baking?
My first port of call was the internet for researching the all important recipe. As a first timer I need to be in safe hands and I need a tried and tested, fool-proof recipe. Well who else would I turn to but Delia? And sure enough, her recipe sounds great, the cake looks moist and scrumptious, and the reviews are outstanding. So with one Christmas cake recipe found, I headed to the supermarket for the ingredients. I played around with the fruit a little; I couldn’t possibly include candied mixed peel (bleugh!) in my first ever Christmas cake so I substituted with dried cranberries which seemed much more fitting, reduced the currents and upped the cherries that I love (the clue’s in the blog name my friends).
The first stage of the cake making, although there’s hardly anything to it, holds the promise of all the good things to come. The soaking of the fruit in alcohol, in this case brandy (one of my favourites), seems almost ritualistic. Certainly when I weighed my fruit, mixed it with my hands and poured over the brandy I sensed a little of the Christmas magic. I must confess to using more than the 3 tablespoons in the recipe; it seemed such a small volume for the amount of fruit and I’m not one to be reserved with alcohol! I didn’t go too crazy though, just doubled it. They’ll be plenty more alcohol to be had when it comes to the feeding of the cake!
So now the fruit is soaking until the morning, when I’ll move onto the next stage and start mixing up the rest of the ingredients. If anyone has any tips for this Christmas cake novice, or if anyone has made Delia’s Christmas cake and wants to share their experience, I’d love to hear from you.