Friday, September 30, 2011

Aunty Pegs Christmas Cake

Is there such a thing as a Christmas Cake Virgin?  If there is, its me!!  I've been too scared to make one, as they look so hard, but felt confident this year I could do it.  I thought I had my husbands Great Nanas recipe, but it turns out I was sent Aunty Pegs instead ... but apparantly its still just as good and I will do Great Nana's next year.

Firstly I invested in a high quality cake tin.  I think I may of mentioned in a previous post this broke my bank.  But I am so excited that its something I will be able to hand down to my children!  I also ventured into the bottle store to purchase Brandy.  Its the first time in YEARS I have been into a bottle store - I actually felt nervous, which yes, is very silly.  Thats not to say I haven't brought alcohol in this time, but not being a heavy drinker, I only buy the occasional bottle of red through the supermarket.  I have broken lots of boundries with this cake haha.

The recipe was given to me in pounds and ounces, which I used, but in brackets I have put the conversions to kgs and grams.

2 1/2lb mixed fruit (1.13 kgs)
1/2lb butter (225 grams)
1lb flour (500 grams)
1/2lb brown sugar (225 grams)
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 pint milk, boiling (1 cup)
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp lemon essence
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp baking soda disolved in a tablespoon of cold milk

Soak your mixed fruit in brandy, for anywhere up to two weeks.  I just poured small amounts in till it was soaked right through (maybe around a cup in total), then every few days I stirred the mixture and added a bit more Brandy if it looked dry, until the fruit had expanded nicely.  I left this on the bench for around 10 days.

Prepare your tin before you start.  As its going to be cooking for a long time its a good idea to wrap your tin with brown paper or newspaper and tie tightly with string.  Make sure you have no bits hanging off that can catch on fire.  This will stop the cake from browning too much.  I also lined the bottom of the tin with a thick layer of newspaper, then greased the sides and cut baking paper down to size to get a nice finish.

Preheat oven to 140 degrees.

Rub your butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Then using your hands again, rub through the brown sugar until there are no lumps.  The recipe didn't state to use any spices, but I choose to which I have listed above in italics.  You don't have to add these.  Add spices if you choose, along with the curry powder and baking powder.  Mix well.

In a small saucepan bring your milk to the boil.  Remove from the heat and add your essences.  Beat your eggs and add these to the hot milk mixture. 

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixure and the mixed fruit and mix well.  Add the cold milk and baking soda last, and mix well.

Pour into prepared tin, and bake for approximately 3 hours or until cooked.  My oven is a bit fast, so I only cooked mine for 2 and a half hours.  It had come away from the sides by now and a skewer came out clean, so I didn't want to dry it out by cooking any longer.

Leave in the tin until its cold.  My cake sunk in the middle.  I did open the oven half way through cooking, so not sure if this caused the sinking!!  This below is the bottom on my cake and you can see its sagging a bit in the middle.  This is optional, but when cold you can poke holes through the cake (using a knitting needle or something similar) and pour brandy over it.  My cake also looks a bit soggy on the bottom, which I am hoping is from the brandy and not from undercooking.

I then wrapped my cake tightly in a few layers of tinfoil, then gladwrap, snuggly fitted it into an airtight container and have hidden it in a nice dark spot in the back of the pantry where, fingers crossed, it will live happily for the next few months, ripening or doing whatever these cakes are meant to do, to be ready for decorating at Christmas.  Lets hope!!

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