Dried fruit for the Christmas cake has been on our shopping list for several weeks, but I wanted to make the effort to buy dried fruit from our local health food shop, The Honey Pot
, a 100km round trip from home. It was a much more personal experience than going to the supermarket and serving myself. The quality of the dried fruit was impressive, the raisins were particularly plump. Owner Fenella is always so helpful and I appreciated her weighing bags of currants, raisins, sultanas, citrus peel, and figs We were sent a package of Healthy Baker self-raising and plain flour, so what better way to start using it than in our Christmas cake. Our local publican Nathan Schofield from The Peel Inn
, Nundle, did us a favour, selling me an almost empty bottle of brandy, rather than a large bottle off his shelf.
I chose to use Mickey Robertson's Christmas Cake recipe in The House at Glenmore
, knowing what an excellent cook she is and having faith in her recipes. A tip from Mickey and customers that I put to use this year is lining the cake tin with two layers of brown paper and a layer of baking paper. An hour into the cooking time I covered the cooking cake with more baking paper. I've made some overcooked Christmas cakes in the past, so this made sense. Many of our customers refuse shopping bags these days, but on seeing that we have brown paper shopping bags a recent customer accepted so she could reuse it to line her Christmas cake.
It was a delight to mix the dried fruit, see the cake batter coming together, blending the dark brown sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and fruit. Our nine-year-old came home from school as I was mixing the batter and he gave it a stir for good luck before it was spooned into the tin. Our kitchen smelt like Christmas as the cake baked for four hours. The recipe made a high sided, dense, dark Christmas cake. Once it was cooled I followed Mickey's advice, wrapping it in baking paper, foil and a tea towel and placing it in a timber dresser in our lounge room. I look forward to opening the cupboard door and breathing the scent of anticipation.
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