A place for reflection and introspection, communication and thoughtful conversation.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
CHRISTMAS IS FAST APPROACHING!
“At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year” - Thomas Tusser
This year has flown by and it is hard to believe that in less than four weeks it will be Christmas. The older we get the faster time seems to go by and the years seem like the months of childhood existence. Time is such a relative quantity and its elasticity never seems to surprise me, especially the older I get. Still, I am grateful for many special moments when I can concentrate on the passage of time and as I drink in each second, I am consciously aware of it, savouring its passing, bottling it like a preserve, so I can revel in its sweetness not only in the present but also in the future, when it has become a long-past memory.
Seeing Christmas is approaching fast, this weekend is pretty much the last chance to make your Christmas cake, giving you enough time to let it mature and be ritually soaked in brandy at appropriate intervals until Christmas! Here is a favourite recipe:
CHRISTMAS CAKE Ingredients Cake
500 g sultanas
500 g currants
500 g raisins
250 g pitted dessert prunes
250 g pitted dates
125 g glacé figs
125 g glacé ginger
125 g candied peel
500 g butter
2 cups of brown sugar firmly packed
3 cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons white sugar
30 g butter (molten and hot)
1/2 cup brandy (warmed)
1 egg white
500 g icing sugar
60 g liquid glucose
Desired favouring and colouring
Marzipan paste and apricot jam
Have butter and eggs at room temperature. Place sultanas, currants and peel in a very large basin or plastic dish. Chop raisins, prunes, dates, figs and ginger the same size as the sultanas and add to the basin. Stir in the brandy caramel mixture. In another basin, beat the butter until soft, add the sifted sugar, beat only until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into mixture well before adding the next one. Add this butter/sugar/egg mixture to the fruits, mixing well with the hand to break up large clumps of fruit. Mix in the sifted flours well.
Line a deep 25 cm square or 28 cm round cake tin with one sheet of brown paper and then three sheets of greaseproof paper, bringing paper 5 cm above the edge of the tin. Bake in a slow oven (175˚C) for 2 hours and then at 150˚C for 3 hours, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
When cooked, remove from the oven, brush the brandy over the top cover securely with aluminium foil and leave to cool completely. Remove cake from tin, leaving the paper intact around it.. Wrap the cake tightly in cling food wrap and store in an airtight tin. The cake will keep for three months if stored correctly. It may need a little brandy brushed over the top periodically.
When ready to serve, brush the cake all round with warmed apricot jam, ensuring all sides are covered well. Roll the marzipan to about 3 mm thickness and cover the cake completely, neatening up joins so that it presents a smooth, flawless surface. Beat some egg white and cover the almond paste brushing all surfaces well. Make the fondant icing by mixing all ingredients well and rolling out to 5 mm thickness. Cover the cake, neatening up the joints once again by coating the hand with icing sugar and smoothing the surfaces.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.