Saturday, 29 December 2007

Christmas Sweet Tooth

Christmas Roast went well - turkey, gammon ham, roast beef; roasted courgettes,sweet potatoes, pumpkin; roast potatoes; roasted parsnips; yorkshire pudding. mmmm. what a feat! Started cooking from 3pm but glad it's all over. New Year's is going to be much simpler.

Due to mum's request, made a little Lim Family Fruitcake. Recipe was taken from Martha Stewart Living - the Backhouse Family Fruitcake but the only difference in mine is the pre-soaking of dried fruit in tea overnight and the dousing of Cognac instead of rum. For other fruitcake recipes from martha, try this link:

Note, the recipe yields quite a lot. I mad
e a loaf cake, a 20cm round cake and 6 muffins, noted i did double the recipe since one of the cakes was meant for eve lunch at the gran's. However, there's never a hard and fast rule to fruitcake. You can be as generous as you like. Although less is more, with fruitcake I believe you can be as crazy as you like, just remember not to overdo it or u'd hardly have any cake left and it'd be all fruit!

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 4 ounces glaceed or dried apricot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
  • 4 ounces glaceed or dried pineapple, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces dates, pitted, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 ounces dried cherries (1/2 cup)
  • 4 ounces whole blanched almonds (3/4 cup)
  • 8 ounces Brazil nuts (1 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum, plus more for dousing
Soak dried fruit in tea overnight. Use whatever fruit you like best. I used dried dates, apricots, currants, raisins and cranberries. Cover and let the fruit absorb the tea. The next day, when you're ready to begin, pour away excess tea and put aside while you prep the rest of the cake.
Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed; add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and rum. (I used cognac as we'd run out of rum, of course rum is usually the best christmas liquer for fruitcake. But i personally like cognac very much!)

In two additions, add dry ingredients to butter. Scrape down bowl between additions. Fold in fruit and nuts. Pour batter into pan. Bake until golden and set, about an hour. Cover with foil if it colours too much.

Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan; discard parchment. Wrap in cheesecloth or muslin. Douse with 1/2 cup rum. Store in a cool, dry place; douse with 1/2 cup rum weekly for at least 1 month before serving.

After the fruitcake was done, it gave me plenty of time to make my mince pies.
Mince pies are easy to make, all you need to do really is make the tart pastry and you can use storebought ready-made mince meat (stick with M&S, they do well good ones) and throw it in the oven. Then sprinkle with icing sugar. And whilst this is happening, it also gives you time to sort out the mulled wine which you have to be very careful not to let it boil. Red wine simmering with sugar, an orange slice, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and peppercorn.

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