In the infamous, shouty words of Noddy Holder 'It's CHRIIIISSSSSSSTMAAAAAAS'.
Well, not quite, but it felt like it was getting close when the delicious smell of my baking christmas cake filled the kitchen at the weekend (and whoever said dark rum was only for pirates was wrong by the way - my 4 and 6 year olds were both a little too keen on the smell of the stuff).
Baking the Christmas cake is a very special occasion in our house. Not just because of the tradition of making a wish as we stir the mixture (and the hilarious - yes I'm being sarcastic - mess which ends up all over the floor), but it is a special occasion because the recipe we use is my mums.
I rediscovered her hand-written, dog-eared recipe a few years ago. It was nestled between the pages of her 1964 edition of Woman's Own Cook Book (a book which probably deserves a blog post all of its own). Despite the fact that there is a huge rip in the instructions where the vital information about preparing the cake tin and baking temperature should be, and despite the fact that my husband and two children won't eat the finished cake, I will continue to make it every year because it was a family tradition from when I was a little girl and now, as a mum myself, I will continue the legacy of my mum's Christmas cake. Think of it, if you will, as my own little tribute to the marvellous woman and baking genius she truly was.
Even though it isn't yet Halloween, now is the time to be making those cakes people, and it's also National Baking Week in the UK. So, if you haven't made yours already, here is my mum's recipe to inspire and get you into a Christmas cakey bakey mood.
'Andrea's Christmas Cake'
(make 5-6 weeks before Christmas - with a glass of sweet sherry* to hand)
8oz soft butter
8oz light golden soft brown sugar
4 large eggs/4 tablespoons milk/4 tablespoons dark rum beaten together - total weight of 12oz liquid
12oz self raising flour/1 tsp mixed spice/4 oz ground almonds - mixed together
8oz currants/8oz raisins/8oz sultanas/4 oz glace cherries/2 oz mixed peel/2oz chopped nuts - mixed together
Line 8inch square or round tin with greaseproof paper - bottom and sides of tin
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the liquid mixture and the flour mixture alternately.
Stir in the mixed fruits.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 120 celcius for 4 and a half hours.
Allow to cool in tin.
Remove from tin, prick holes in top and pour over a tablespoon of rum.
Wrap cake in greaseproof paper and foil and place in tin.
Prick holes in top and pour over a spoonful of rum once a week until about a week before Christmas when the cake will be ready for icing. There are no instructions for icing the cake, so like me, you'll have to make that bit up yourself!
*the sweet sherry is optional but adds to the authenticity of my 1980s memories. Feel free to substitute the sherry with red wine, port or whatever takes your fancy. This also helps you to be significantly less bothered about the mess your kids will inevitable make when stirring the mixture and tipping the flour bit all over the floor.
This post was partly inspired by the fabulous 'Little Legacy' started by Penny over at The Alexander Residence. Lovely, timeless things from small, humble beginnings.