The first of the year are in the oven as we speak

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It’s that time of the year, and this time I’m feeling particularly organised.  There have been years when I have left it all but a few weeks out from Christmas to make my cake, and while it has been good, it hasn’t lived up to its potential.  A mature cake has had time to sit, and settle and get comfortable with itself and baste in Brandy/Sherry.  I’m using Tim’s Grandma’s recipe as usual again this year – I can’t go past it – it has everything that I like, and you can make it your own or change it up a little by adding nuts if you prefer, or a splash of Almond and lemon essence.  I remember Nan always had essence in hers, so on the days I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ve been known to add a dash in for good measure.

It’s around about this point that I start to wonder exactly how much of the batter is going to make it into the tins.  Christmas cake is by far my favourite cake batter before it hits the oven.

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look at those babies, glazed in Sherry! Nom!

I’m not sure if it’s because the fruit has soaked all night in Sherry, and by this stage the kitchen is spelling very similar to rum pot, possibly tending towards my boozy side ….. or is it just that the combination of everything mixed with the drunken fruit that tastes so amazing?  Whatever it is I can’t leave it alone, but I fall back on the excuse that a good cook has to taste before it goes in the oven, right?

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I have been “sampling” the cherries all day (a not so secret pleasure of mine, cherries soaked in sherry – nom!), and closer to mixing the batter decided it was best to replace a few that had been “sampled”, for good measure.

None the less, 2 8 inch tins are now full of fruity goodness and baking away in the oven, destined for greatness, as we speak.  I have already had a few requests for Christmas cakes this year, much to my amusement, one even from family in Aussie, so it seems as though I’ll have some practice before the year is out.  I’m toying with the idea of making a few extras, as they make such wonderful gifts for friends, especially when donned with the trimmings of the season 🙂

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The kitchen is starting to emit that wonderful rich, sweet baking smell and it’s wafting through the entire house.  It’s cozy and comforting, and perfect for one of those days when you just need to relax.  I haven’t baked properly in a long time and I forgot how much I have missed it.  Gone are those days of stress baking (for the mean time), and since I haven’t been doing birthday cakes this year there has been a serious decrease in the baking time spent in the kitchen.  It feels lovely getting back to it again.  No time pressures, just when I feel like it, just like it’s supposed to be.  It may continue over the next few months, in preparation for one of my favourite seasons of the year.

What are your favourite Christmas treats?  I may have to find some new treasures this year, I’m always on the look out for something interesting, so please do share.

Thanks for reading

Lee Lewis

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