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.
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!