There is nothing like the smell of a Christmas cake baking in the oven. I love the whole procedure of weighing out the fruit and soaking it in brandy and orange juice a few days before adding it to the cake mixture.
My mum always made our Christmas cake along with one for my brother and sister, then when dad became less able and she had to provide a lot of care for him she was struggling to carry on the tradition so I took over and made my own. I have used the same recipe for years now and it has served us well. Neither of us like candied peel too much and the recipe I use has dried apricots cut into small pieces instead, which we much prefer.
I normally make the cake near to the end of November and then drizzle a little more brandy into the top until I am ready to decorate it – not that I always decorate it – if I have the time it gets done, otherwise it is just as good without.
Last year I had lots of help from little L who arranged these Christmas figures I found reduced in Home Bargains.
This year, like last, I plan to put marzipan and roll out icing just on the top again and dress the sides with one of those lovely old fashioned paper frills. What decorations go on the top will be anyone’s guess at the moment but I will take a picture when it is finished.
Here in Yorkshire you can expect to be given a slice of Christmas cake with a good chunk of cheese – and Wensleydale is usually the preferred variety as this is a cheese that matures well for the winter season and has a crumbly texture, though Blue Stilton is becomming quite popular.
The tradition can be traced back to Victorian times in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire when it is mentioned in a book by Joseph Lucas in 1871 called Studies in Nidderdale and reads:
“On Christmas Eve one Yule cake is given to each member of the family, along with a piece of Christmas cheese. As a rule, part of it is left for Christmas morning, and eaten at the breakfast.”
Along with the Christmas cake I have been baking three Victoria sponge cakes for my younger daughter’s 40th birthday in a few days time. They have now cooled and been popped in the freezer ready for when I have to assemble the layers and decorate it. I thought I would have another go at drizzling a chocolate ganache over the sides – fingers crossed it will be a better outcome to the one I made for little Sweetie as I won’t be able to hide the mistakes quite so well without the million and one little sprinkles I put on hers.
Tomorrow our plans have already changed, or been changed for us! Instead of a day out in Derbyshire to see the lovely Christmas decorations in all the villages and perhaps calling in at Chatsworth Farm shop we are now looking after Master Freddie for the day. Having just put out a few more Christmas Decorations in the lounge I will have to run around and move some to a higher level….he is just at that enquiring age and some items might be a bit fragile.
Hope everyone has enjoyed their weekend. x