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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

‘C’ is for Christmas Fare 2008!

I’m not quite sure where this year has gone, it seems to have flown by! It’s time again for baking my Christmas fruit cake and making up a batch of mincemeat for Christmas 2008. I like to make my fruit cake and mincemeat in October each year, to mature and develop all those Christmassy flavours. Here are my recipes that I have pleasure in sharing with you and hopefully you may try them out too this festive season!
Christmas Fruit Cake’08

Feeding the cake with brandy!

My cake will be fed leading up to the last few weeks of December by adding 1 tsp of brandy each week. This ensures for a rich matured moist fruit cake before applying the marzipan and icing in late December.

Christmas Fruit Cake’08

You will need to start soaking all the dried fruits three days prior to baking this cake to enable the fruits to swell and absorb the brandy and orange juice.
175g (6 oz) raisins
350g (12 oz) glace cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
500g (1 lb 2oz) currants
350g (12 oz) sultanas
150ml (¼ pint) brandy, plus extra for feeding
Finely grated zest of 1 orange and lemon
Juice of 1 orange
250g (9 oz) butter, softened
250g (9 oz) light muscovado sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp black treacle (molasses)
75g 93 oz) chopped mixed nuts
75g (2 oz) self-raising flour
175g (6 oz) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cocoa powder
A large container with lid for soaking the fruits

You will need a 20cm (8 in) springform tin, greased and lined with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper and the outside of the tin double layered with brown paper and tied in the middle with string.


Three days prior to baking the cake, add all the dried fruits to the container and pour over the brandy and stir in the orange zest and juice and then the lemon zest. Cover with a lid and leave to soak for three days, stirring daily.

Line the 20cm (8 in) springform tin as directed above and preheat the oven 140°C/fan 120°C/275°F/gas mark 1.

In a very large bowl, add the butter and sugar and cream together until fluffy and light. Add the eggs a little at a time until all incorporated then add the nuts and stir through. Add the flours, cocoa powder and spices and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface, I like to leave a little dip in the middle of the mixture so the cake doesn’t dome in the middle when baked.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4½ hrs or until the cake the cake feels firm to the touch in the middle and is a rich golden brown, or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 2 hrs baking and if the top is a lovely golden brown, cover with a circle of baking paper or foil to prevent the top from burning. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a skewer and feed with a tsp brandy. Wrap the cake completely up in a double layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of foil. Store in a cool place for up to three months, feeding with 1 tbsp brandy every week.

Decorate with marzipan and icing in the last few weeks before Christmas.

Boozy Mincemeat

Boozy Mincemeat

I have been making this mincemeat each year ever since it appeared in The GoodFood Magazine in 2002 (you can find the original recipe here). This is a great recipe that imparts all those Christmassy flavours without much effort to achieve a fantastic moist boozy mincemeat for mince pies or last minute chocolate Christmas cake etc. I have altered the recipe slightly by using luxury mixed vine fruits and peel, glace cherries and vegetable suet. This recipe will keep from one year to the next but as Ruth Watson states; it is best used within six months.

Here is my adapted recipe for Boozy Mincemeat

Makes approximately 3.5kg (7lb)

3 x 500g (1lb 2oz) luxury vine fruits with added peel
200g (7 oz) glace cherries, washed and chopped
500g (1lb 2oz) Bramley apples or apple of choice, peeled, cored and grated
100g (4 oz) whole blanched almonds, chopped
350g (12 oz) Demerara sugar or soft brown sugar
100g (4 oz) dark muscovado sugar
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
2 rounded tsp ground mixed spice
1 large lemon, zest and juiced
125ml dark rum
125ml Disaronno amaretto liqueur
175ml French brandy


In a very large bowl (I used my preserving pan), place in the vine fruits and peel, glace cherries, grated apple, suet, chopped almonds, sugars, spices, lemon zest and juice, and then lastly add all the alcohol. Mix thoroughly through together either with a large spoon or clean hands. Cover over with a clean tea towel and leave to stand for 24 hours giving the mixture a good stir as you pass by.

Next day pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars, (I used Kilner jars) and top with greaseproof paper jam covers. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool place. This recipe will keep from one year to the next but as Ruth Watson states; it is best used within six months.


n33ma said...

Till a few days ago I didn't know that we had to soak the dried fruits.The cake looks great. Thankyou for visiting my blog too.

Maria said...

Wow, Christmas goodies already! Where did the year go?? The cake looks tasty!

Bellini Valli said...

I used to make fruitcake every October..I may be inspired to do so again:D

Maria said...

Rosie what a gorgeous looking Christmas fruit cake and the mincemeat looks delish!

I always start on my Christmas preparations in October. I had a busy but productive weekend and made my Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat ;o)


Emily Rose said...

This cake looks amazing! I'm don't think I'll have the time for all of that prep this year- but maybe when my little Helen Mae is a bit older! I look forward to fruitcake all year long!

James said...

Love the idea of the amaretto.

Do you have christmas pudding recipe without Guinness? I've been asked to make some for a restaurant, but just don't like the bitter taste of Guinness that my Mum's recipe has....


Rosie said...

Hi N33ma, thanks !! Some don’t soak dried fruits but in my opinion it does help with the moistness of a cake :D

Hi Maria, yes where did the year go??? Christmas goodies being posted already :D

Hi Val, I do hope you’ll take inspiration and bake a good old fruit cake this year :D

Hi Maria, it sure is this time of year again to get our festive goodies all ready :D

Hi Emily Rosie, yes when you have darling little ones like your sweet Helen Mae it really is difficult to get everything done!!!

Hi James, Nigel Slater has a lovely Christmas pud recipe on this link at the BBC food site – hope this helps :D

Many thanks for all your lovely comments and for calling by :)

Rosie x

Happy cook said...

Rosie rosi thay look just splendid.
I used to make my cake too in septemeber. But now for the last few years i have not done it.
And fully agree the year seems to fly.

Jules said...

Both the cake and mincement look delicious. Feeding the cake is essential in my eyes!

I'm making stollen and suet-free mincement this year so will me making them closer to the time.

Rosie said...

Hi H.C. I have always made a Christmas cake but to be honest it doesn't seem to be cut into until a few days later when the family are less full lol

Hi Jules, ooh I adore stollen and baked one last year that I blogged can't wait to view yours!!

Maria & I have just posted a recipe on sweet & simple bakes for suet free mincemeat using melted butter instead of suet. It will be interesting to view your recipe and mincemeat :)

Many thanks ladies for your lovely comments and for calling by!!

Rosie x

Ivy said...

Rosie, it sounds great but if I make it now there will be nothing left for Christmas. How do you manage to keep them away from the cake?

Rosie said...

Hi Ivy, hahaha I keep them under lock and key, no seriously the family are very good and know it's 'THE' Christmas cake and not to take slices out of it ;)

Best wishes Rosie x

Sylvie said...

Rosie, you're officially the first person I have seen to blog about Christmas Cake this year. It looks beautiful.

Divya Vikram said...

Cake looks gorgeous and divine..

The Blonde Duck said...

That cake looks wonderful to me!

Cakespy said...

WOWEE, this is a serious cake!! Amazing, it's getting me all excited about the holidays!

Anna said...

WOW! You are so organized! Well done Rosie!

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

yummy yummy yummy... the texture of the cake looks awesome and a feast to the eyes...

Uma said...

beautiful cake, tempting me so much. Yummy!

Coby said...

Gosh is it *that* time already? Both these recipes sound fabulous *hic*, and I had a chuckle at the title of your mincemeat:) I am so impressed you are on top of things Rosie:) Bet your kitchen aromas were blissful!

The Caked Crusader said...

wow - someone's been busy!
The mincemeat's made, but I have to get round to the christmas cake!

Dee said...

We're like blogging twins *grin* I've never made my own mincemeat (I usually buy ready-made pies *gasp*) but I may just give it a go this year. What are luxury vine fruits, Rosie?

Lore said...

W-O-W now that's what I call Christmas preparations! You make Christmas even more special :) I don't know if a cake like yours would "survive" for so many weeks in my house LOL. And the boozy mincemeat is definitely a new thing for me. Bravo Rosie!!

Kelly-Jane said...

Wonderful cake! I'm starting to get into the Christmas spirit too :)

Coffee and Vanilla said...


It looks delicious even though I hate mince pies and fruit cakes :) Same Christmas pudding, brrrr... But this year I want to try finally Panettone.

Thank you for your nice words about new design on my blog, it is still in "beta" but soon should be fully working ;)

Have a nice day, Margot

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, you are well-prepared! You cake looks delicious! I love both specialities! Yummy!



Emiline said...

I didn't know you had to start a fruitcake this early! Yikes! I would love to try this recipe.

I'm wondering what it tastes like after that many months. Does it taste strongly of alcohol? I guess it does. Nothin' wrong with that! Am I right?! *Highfive*

Peter M said...

I am now getting over my childhood fear of fruitcake and your version is helping my therapy...thank you! lol

Kevin said...

This cake sounds good! I have been wanting to try mincemeat and making a fruit cake. I can't believe that you can let it sit for so long. I am going to have to try it this year.

Grace said...

you've created heaven on a plate. :)

Sangeeth said...

loved the cake. I am taking my baby steps in baking so it sure is a very inspiring recipe for me. We do not use brandy so is there a way we can substitute it with something else?

Anonymous said...

Wow Maria. They look great. I'll more than likely start baking like this at the beginning of November.

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Yep it's that time a year again, doesn't Christmas baking fill the house with a lovely aroma, and always manages to bring back memories.

tartasacher said...

Hello Rosie:
Delicious Christmas fruit cake. Thank you for your comments in my sweet blog and for your congratulations.
Best and whises

Bridgett said...

The Christmas cake must be ultra decadent by the time the holiday rolls around! All of that booze...your guests must love you. Mind sending me a slice? Looks beautiful, Rosie. Kudos to you for getting started early!

dabrah said...

I love Christmas Cake and mince pies. This looks scrumptious.

La Traductora said...

Dear Rosie,
I had never had genuine English-style fruitcake until last year. It was utterably delicious! I'm going to share this recipe with the friend who made it. I think she's going to love it, too!

Faery said...

Wow this cake looks sooo good to eat now, with me around it would not last until christmas he he he
It is beautiful :9

susan said...

whoo! time for christmas goodies! :)

Rosie said...

Hi Sylvie, thank you & it really is a lovely fruit cake. I would imagine there will be quite a few fruit cakes to view on blogs very soon :D

Hi Divya, Thank you :D

Hi T.B.D. many thanks :D

Hi Cakespy, this is my richest cake by far that I bake each festive year :D

Hi Anna, I try to be organized if possible but sometimes it quite doesn’t run to plan lol

Hi Ramya, thank you& how kind of you :D

Rosie said...

Hi Uma, awe bless thank you sweetie :D

Hi Coby, *giggle* hic,hic, yup lots of booze used for the fest bakes in my house – time soon comes around each year doesn’t it..... :D The house was full of wonderful aromas......

Hi T.C.C. Great news you have your mincemeat made – great feeling to have a little preparation under way :D I can’t wait to view your cake when it’s baked as I know it will be such a lovely one!

Hi Dee, I can fully recommend making homemade mincemeat and mince pies, but sometimes this isn’t quite possible for someone due to circumstances which is understandable.

“Luxury vine fruits”

“Luxury vine fruits”, I called them this due to the packaging they came in from Sainsbury’s supermarket. Basically mixed dried fruit i.e. raisins, sultanas, currants and citron mixed peel, but any dried fruit to the weight of the recipe would be fine to use :D

Rosie said...

Hi Lore, *giggle* the family are under instructions not to cut into this cake at all costs :D The boozy mincemeat I can fully recommend anyone, gives a great moistness to the mince pies not to mention the flavour HIC – HIC :D

Hi K.J. Thank you! I always love the preparation and run up to Christmas – lovely to hear you are also getting into the festive spirit :D

Hi Margot, ooooooh Panettone just wonderful I can’t wait to view this when you blog it :D Your blog looks wonderful with its new design – love it :D

Hi Rosa, thank you. I try to be organized sometimes it happens to work out as planned *smile*

Hi Emiline, I like to try and have my cake baked at least 2 months in advanced and even better if it would be three months, but at a push this could be made beginning of December but it won’t be as rich and the texture will be different. The texture is not crumbly due to the amount of alcohol as it swells and moistens the fruit thoroughly. You can taste alcohol but not as strongly as you’d think, it seems to mellow as you feed the cake and leave it to mature. I can fully recommend this cake should you wish to bake a fruit cake for Christmas. *High five* your way :D

Rosie said...

Hi Peter, I also disliked fruit cake as a child but having overcome this now I enjoy a slice of rich mature fruit cake. Pleased my version of fruit cake will help your therapy :D

Hi Kevin, I can fully recommend both recipes to try. The mincemeat matures like the fruit cake and everything mellows together and works in harmony. I find 3 months to six months a good time to let the mincemeat mature and I have even used this boozy mincemeat after it has been made for a year and tastes just as good. The alcohol preserves things nicely. Enjoy making your cake and mince pies this year :D

Thank you Grace :D

Hi Sangeeth, thank you, it is always pleasing to hear I can inspire in some small way! You can use sherry, port or any other alcohol for replacing the brandy or if you want non -alcohol you could soak the fruits in fruit juice but I am not quite sure regarding feeding the cake after baking if using fruit juice only.

Hi George, thank you and can’t wait to view your festive creations :D

Rosie said...

Hi Erica, you are so right I adore all those lovely aromas to evoke fond memories of past times :D

Hi tartasacher, my pleasure sweetie as always :D

Hi Bridget, thank you! If I may say so myself it really is a lovely rich mature fruit cake, just ready to marzipan and fondant ice near Christmas :D

Hi Dabrah, awe thanks sweetie :D

Hi La Traductora, I am SO pleased to have managed to try a traditional English-style fruitcake *huge smile* I am so thrilled you will be sharing my recipe with your friend, I hope she enjoys this fruit cake as much as my family does :D

Rosie said...

Hi Faery, it can be eaten now but *giggle* but if possible, better to leave when all moistened with brandy HIC – HIC :D

Hi Susan, I always get excited staring this time of year with lots of festive goodies and baking coming up!

Many thanks to all my 'dear' friends for taking the time to call by and for all your kind comments you are what makes blogging truly worthwhile!!

With Best wishes Rosie x

nicisme said...

Looks fab Rosie. My mum made ours and I just have to feed it. One for the cake and one slug for me....

Cakelaw said...

What a pearler of a Christmas cake - I love it!

Margaret said...

Both the Christmas cake and mincemeat look perfect Rosie. Mx

glamah16 said...

Every year I say I will do this and fall behind. There is still time.

Rosie said...

Thank you Nic, cakelaw, M & Coco :)

LOL Nic love it!! One for the cake and one slug for me - heehee

Coco I agree still time to bake a cake. We have stir up Sunday here in U.K. and that is in November when puds, cakes and mincemeat will be made in households.

Best wishes Rosie x