Merry Christmas 2012

Standard

New South Wales, far south coast, Christmas Day began with the shrill cries of black cockatoos, heralding a cloudy/rainy day.   Then the morning chorus of bird calls began. It is gentle at that hour – I know the hour – 5.10am – because my son was awake, and using every ounce of willpower he possessed to, a) stay awake, and b) not wake anyone else until an ‘acceptable” time.  Eventually, it must have seemed like many hours to him but it was in fact only 5.40am, I heard him wake up his sister in the loudest whisper – “Merry Christmas We Are Allowed To OpenThe  Presents In Our Stockings Be Quiet Every One Else Is Sleeping!!”.

MerryXmas2012The day was indeed cool overcast and drizzly.  Perfect for my planned traditional turkey meal.  With only a small group to feed, the Christmas meal was so easy.  Not the mountains of food I remember from my childhood in the States where the turkey would cover a small table all by itself – but then we did have many more mouths to feed.

The real effort for the Christmas meal was in the cake. Fruit cakes and puddings are the Australian tradition and Wal loves a fruit cake. They are costly and time consuming to make it but worth the effort – rich and flavoursome and completely decadent.

Xmas_cake2012

Jen’s Fruitcake Recipe

Fruit mince

Fruit mince can be made a few weeks ahead. I like some tartness in my fruit mince, so I use fewer raisons and sultanas than in most recipes, and substitute other dried fruits. Fill the measuring cups generously!

  • 750 g dried dates, chopped
  • 1 c sultanas
  • 1 1/2 c currents
  • 1 3/4 c dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried apples, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried pears, chopped
  • 1/2 c dried blueberries
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries, halved
  • 1 c decent quality brandy (I use 1/2 c standard brandy, and 1/2 c cherry brandy)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer to air tight containers and set aside to marinate until required.

xmas_fruitmince2012

Fruit cake recipe

  • 9 c prepared fruit mince
  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 1 c raw sugar
  • 1/2 c raspberry jam
  • 4 lg eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 3/4 c plain flour
  • 1 t mixed spice
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 3-4 T brandy or rum, extra

Double line a 23cm (9 in.) spring form cake tin with baking paper, and preheat oven to 160C.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat in.  Add vanilla.

Mix dried ingredients together. Stir the fruit and combined dry ingredients in alternating batches into the mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin and tap on the counter a couple of times to remove any air pockets.  Smooth over top with wet fingers or wet spoon.

Bake for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Remove from oven and immediately pour brandy over the cake, concentrating on the edges, and any cracks in the surface. Leave cake in the tin, cover the top with more baking paper and wrap in a large towel, and leave to cool.  You can leave it this way for a number of days.

Icing

  • 1 1/2 c sifted pure icing sugar
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • milk

In a small bowl, beat egg white until soft peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl beat sugar, butter and 2 T milk.  Add egg white and beat until well mixed and smooth.  Add milk, half a teaspoon at a time until you have the desired texture. Ice and decorate the cake as desired.

For extra extravagence, serve with cream whipped with honey, cinnamon and vanilla!  Think hard about the gym as you eat – maybe that mental exercise will help!

Xmas_cakecut2012

And to finish off our Australian Christmas we had a very rare and special visitor in the garden – an echidna!  Merry Christmas!

Xmas-echidna

Advertisements

About baking bohemian

My name is Jen and I am the baking bohemian. My blog identity comes from the cultural background of my mother’s family, (Bohemian), and my mother’s more left wing lifestyle (bohemian). The big ‘B’ Bohemian refers to the rich cultural heritage of our family that emigrated from Bohemia when it was still its own country (it now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic). Food featured prominently in the family and broader social life of that part of my family. No social interaction was without sustenance, and any celebration, large or small, was an invitation to cook up a storm. My own family emigrated from the United States to Australia when I was a child. For the most part we lived with our mother, and my dad eventually moved back to the US. The little ‘b’ bohemian relates to the semi-alternative lifestyle we led with our mother. I hesitate to refer to her as a hippy, for that conjures up so many misconceptions, but certainly she was on that side of the fence. She was probably more eccentric than radical at the end of the day, but she could really cook. We always set extra plates at the dinner table because inevitably people would visit at dinner time. I started cooking when I was about eight. Cookies. Obviously I was motivated by desire! I loved cooking, I loved that the kitchen was always, in every way, the heart of the house, so I was always part of anything else that was happening while I was cooking. I loved people loving my food. With all the different things that I have done in my life and am interested in, food has remained my most consistent and enduring passion.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Winner Of A Lot On Your Plate's Online Bake-off And Giveaway!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s