Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Christmas Cake + BBQ = Random

No I haven't gone completely mad!  The first official day of Autumn to me means time to prepare.  Not cosying up the home, I've already done this.  Not putting warm snuggly throws everywhere, I've already done that.  Not pruning and digging in compost and bulbs, I'm nearly done.  No, it's time to calculate and prepare my Christmas cake!  Yes, I've said the C word, I am so sorry, but I always find that as soon as I hit this time of September, in a blink of an eye it is panic time with a week to go to the big day and I am NEVER ready!  So, at the beginning of the year my first blog post was saying it was time to be organised.  I have nearly achieved this, but I am determined that this year's festivities are going to be stress free and relaxed (urm, yes, that's the plan!).  So with watching the Great British Bake Off each week and being a huge fan along with visiting the local garden centre who are now all geared up for Christmas (photo above - and more photos at a more appropriate time), it was time to get out my cake tin, my favourite bowl, my Great Grandma's measuring jug, a wooden spoon and lots of booze! 
Can you see the Tala Cooks Measure?  Have you seen these in the shops? - well my one is the original and was used by my Great Grandma and passed to my Grandma.  This design hasn't changed through the years apart from the units of measurement.
So with everything prepared, it was time to put on my new pinny, isn't it just gorgeous!  Again I have been shopping at My Blethering Blog, I love the fabric designs Anne uses.  I had been looking for an appropriate pinny for so long and just thought I'd take look in her Etsy shop and there it was, a delicious patisserie to wear and very appropriate.
So, shall we start on this little kitchen journey?  Here we go then.  First of all for me to start on these cooking journeys it has to be a grey, dark, damp day outside so that the kitchen looks all cosy with the lights on.  With the first part of the cake making being the evening before, it was dark and cold outside, so perfect conditions to start soaking the fruit in some warming booze (and a little snifter for me to soak myself into too!).  The smells in the kitchen were already sending out the Christmas cheer.
(1lb currants, 6 oz sultanas, 6 oz raisins, 2oz glace cherries (chopped), 2 oz mixed candied peel (chopped) and 4tbsp Brandy and 4tbsp Rum - but this is purely my own taste).
Remember I said that the day has to be grey, dark, damp?  Well, it turned out that it was hot and humid, urgh!  The sun rose up and the heat was building.
After my drunken slumber peaceful sleep and now disappointed mood, it was time to start the main event.  I can't describe how heart warming the smells were that surrounded that well loved room.  It was time to set the temperature for my oven and set to work. (Gas mark 1, 257F) or 140C).  First in was the dry ingredients (8oz plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice)
In they go, one at a time, each element bringing the cake together...and in another bowl the 8oz butter and 8oz of soft brown sugar were creamed together.  
Making a cake like this is certainly good for the 'bingo wings'!  But the sugar and butter mix had to be beautifully creamy.
Now the four eggs.  Beat them up and then added to the creamy butter mixture a spoonful at a time and mixed in.  Towards the end it may start to curdle so I added a little flour to stop this happening.
Then it was time to get my metal spoon and fold in the flour mixture, then the very drunk fruit mixture some chopped nuts (I always chop up 3oz of brazil nuts), a dessert spoon of black treacle and the grated rind of one lemon and one orange.
The smells of the kitchen start to fill the air with the anticipation of the rich food and treats of Christmas as I start to fill the carriage that this mixture is travelling in.  The 8 inch tin was greased and lined with greaseproof paper and then a double piece of greaseproof paper around the sides.
So, with a little dip in the middle of the cake so that when it rises it will all be the same height, it was time to put the final disc of greaseproof paper on the top with a little hole in the centre for the steam.  In it went to warmer climates on the bottom shelf for four hours and the smells start to get stronger.
All done and time to cool down! 
 Well, that was the plan, however outside it was time for the last BBQ of the summer in this unusual heat.
Yes, just felt a little random...Christmas cake and BBQ in one day!

The journey is at its half way stage.  Time for it to rest for a couple of months, with occasional drinks along the way of warming brandy and rum - just a little Christmas spirit to help it on its way.

I will pop in to the cake tin and unwrap the cake occasionally for an extra tipple of brandy and then see it properly again in a couple of months to start the next leg of its journey.

Who would have thought it.  Such a random day!

Take care.

 ♥ Chel ♥

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  1. I am planning my Christmas cake & pudding, I've been looking at recipes to see which one I fancy.

  2. You are so good. It will be so well matured by Christmas.
    I don't make one now that its only the two of us but I have in the past.
    I'm sure I can smell it....lol

  3. I would love your cake, I'm sure. If I made Christmas fruitcake now it would be gone well before Thanksgiving. Our preference is for what we call 'white' fruitcake and it requires no mellowing: candied cherries and pineapple, white raisins, large amount of pecans or walnuts, coconut and a bit of batter with lots of flavorings. Once a friend gave us a fruitcake and called the next day to say that she and Eddie were sick and I was afraid it was the fruitcake. (They had food poisoning from a dinner out.) My reply was that it wasn't the fruitcake, if it were, we'd be dead. We even ate it for breakfast.

  4. What a delicious looking cake! I am not usually a fan of these types of cake, but yours looks so tasty! Love the new pinny...that fabric is so pretty. Your bbq looks tasty too. I have to admit, I was a little intrigued by your post title and couldn't wait to read what you were up to...:) Have a fabulous weekend my friend!

    Blessings, Vicky
    Life On Willie Mae Lane

  5. Awww, Chel. Thanks for the honourable mention. The pinny looks great alongside your Christmas cake! :o)

  6. Wow, that is some cake...sounds just perfect for the holidays...but I know it must be difficult to think Christmas when the smell of the grill is right under your nose. Your new pinny (love that word) is perfect!!

  7. Oh Chel, a truly inspiring post! You have put me in the mood of the Season...Gale force winds here on the island so it is no hardship to think of Christmas! (I only wish I could have a wee taste of your Christmas cake!)
    Hey, I use the Tala measures as well (two in the cupboard!) and cannot do without it!

  8. Want that be good when it's frosty outside...during the holidays! I love your pretty apron and the beautiful photo at the beginning of Christmas decor! Happy weekend!

  9. Hi Chel, it's so nice to see that you already made your Christmas cake and I do love your pretty apron. It's funny how it was hot outside to BBQ too! I can't believe the holidays will be here soon! Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a nice week.

  10. Chel dear, I feel guilty now as I haven't even thought about my cake yet! Last year I didn't make one because I was traveling home to Torquay - but what did I get in the mail on arrival at the flat we rent, a beautiful Christmas cake made by my sister-in-law in France! Such a wonderful surprise.

    Like your recipe - seems uncomplicated. Hard to get sultanas over here but I brought some back from Tesco and will use them for this year's cake. Do you make your own almond paste by chance?

    Sending Autumn hugs for your weekend.

  11. Oh Chel, you make me long for Christmas. It seems as though I can smell your yummy holiday teat right now.

    The apron is awesome!!!!

  12. Your Christmas cake look wonderful, I have to get my sons birthday over with next week then I'm on the Christmas count down.

  13. You're so funny, Chel. I made my first-ever Christmas cake last year and I think I did something wrong. The fruit seemed bitter, like it was burned? I should try a different recipe. I love the idea of it, though. It was fun to make too. :)

  14. Well that had my mouth watering! I understand what you mean though, about the way time passes. I can hardly believe that September is almost over.

  15. Lovely post Chel! I love making Christmas cake for the simple reason that the house smells so festive and warm and cosy ... I'm also the only one I the house who loves Christmas cake ... Now I don't make one at all, but yo have really got me in the mood. A lady I used to work with gavè me a great tip ... Make the cake in a greased and lined biscuit tin, standing it on the lid while it's baking for extra insulation. It shrinks from the sides making it easy to get I and out but also has a lid to keep it airtight.

    It's a beautiful day again today, I'm off to paint in the garden

    Love Claire xx

  16. Oh please tell me that you haven't decorated for Christmas already...lol. And here I am thinking that maybe we won't bother with a tree this year because the last one made my allergies so bad.

    What a cake!


  17. Just my kind of cake. It should be Christmas everyday!

  18. I have never attempted fruitcake, but well remember the taste of the ones my mother would bake. I imagine yours will be delicious, Chel.


  19. Well....look at you!
    Already thinking Christmas!
    My Mom used to make Christmas cake...and mince meat tarts!
    The only thing I have started is some crochet projects, that will find their way under the tree!
    Your BBQ looks delish! We are having warm temps here as well...
    Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog...hope you visit again!

    Linda :o)

  20. Oh boy does this cake look divine!!! You have inspired me to get rocking with some handmade Christmas gifts for the season....time is flying and like you I would like to be prepared!!!! Love your apron!!! Happy week to you!!!

  21. I could smell that cake as I read. I love your Great Grandmother's measuring jug - it is in such great condition! You will have such fantastic memories of baking this cake when you finally eat it on a cold, damp day... unless this warm weather continues, in which case we shall all have to pretend to be Australian and have a BBQ Christmas with cake.

  22. OH! That cake looks to die for! It is just like the one my Grandma used to make. Now my mother has the recipe and is charge - I wonder if she has steamed her's yet??

  23. I love making Christmas cakes too. I can almost smell the zesty, fruity goodness of it from here.

    Gill x

  24. Oh, I felt like I was there doing the baking with you, Chel - what fun that would be with the wonderful scents and cozy kitchen and lots of silliness, too, I imagine! I love your decorating and your cake looks wonderful - the perfect Christmas cake. I love the measuring tool and your new pinny, too. Baking such a special cake takes a fabulous new pinny, I would say! Your bbq looks quite tasty, too. Hugs xoxo

  25. It looks delicious and I love the measuring jug. And now you're going to save it until Christmas? Good luck with that!

  26. I could imagine the Christmasy smell which I do not appreciate being subjected to this far in advance ;) Cracked me up when you switched from Christmas cake to summer bbq!

  27. Fascinating! Never thought that a cake could be so long-lasting. I'm curious how your cake story will go on :-). The photos are great, thanks for sharing! And guess what? I'm also already in Christmas mood, really very very early this year. I've bought already some presents and will start some handmade ones soon. Maybe we'll actually get not so much stress this year?

  28. Please let me know when you're cutting that cake, and I'll pop over for a slice. I just know that it will be GOOD. Last year was the first year I didn't get one from my mother - I wrote about that sadness. I haven't reached the point of making my own yet. If you lived nearby I'd ask you to come over to give me a lesson!


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