Tag Archives: Christmas

Cat ruins (one day of) Christmas

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Now, that’s a Daily Mail headline for you !

I had such high hopes for today and this blog.

It’s 12 days to Christmas so my heart was filled with joy at the countdown to my favourite time of year. This was to translate ( at least in my head) into witty festive repartee and sugar plumy recipes for all things wonderfully Christmassy!

And then, as it does, reality kicked in.

With the exception of the Doodles, our house is an animal free zone and is intended to stay that way. All the animal capers that we seem to attract – of which there are many – are at least outside . Or were until today.

I can only describe what happened when I went into my office this morning as surreal. As I walked through the door a black cat was running circles around the walls – I kid you not – like one of those motorcycle trick type people. We don’t own a cat – and at the risk of alienating someone – we don’t even like cats. Judging by the amount of urine spider cat then directed at me ( while running round the room, half way up the walls), I can see that the feeling was mutual.

The more I tried to open windows to free the beast, the more it peed. It even got me. I must admit to being secretly impressed with its agility to run, scale walls and pee at the same time.

The Doodles just gaped in amazement and awe – which is their typical reaction to anything that nature fully intended them to chase and savage.

Whoever made cats had a cruel and sadistic streak when they gave them their potent weapon of pee. It’s revolting. It’s also now on almost everything in my office.

I now know several ways of removing said revolting smell – most involving vinegar . My office now smells of fading cat pee and pungent vinegar. Yesterday it was Cinammon and vanilla candles.

So, all thoughts of sugar plums have been cancelled for today and Christmas cheer is rescheduled again for tomorrow….

Fi

Best Christmas Cake ever!

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Deliciousness in a box

This is the best Christmas cake. Ever!

Now that’s quite a claim. Many of my friends have recipe books going back generations and I’m sure there will be a Christmas cake in there somewhere that they will remember as being something special.

But I’m laying claim to this one and ( hopefully) starting a generational thing that will be shared for many years to come. There are many things I would like to be remembered by and this could just be one of them !

It’s a sad sign of the times when most people I know are simply too busy to even think about making a cake at this time of year. Ok, I know it’s not a top priority but that’s the thing. What are the priorities?  I don’t even think it’s the cake that’s the problem. we are all just too busy doing ‘ stuff’ that one more thing to do could just be the step too far.

But tradition is good. It’s a link to our past, our heritage and where we came from. Christmas may be the last bastion of tradition so I for one am keen to keep some of the behaviours peculiar to our family going for as long as I can. And that includes cake.

So, put on some Christmas music, light a candle ( Christmas scent preferable) , pour a glass of egg nog ( ok, wine is absolutely fine as a substitute ! ), switch off the phone and start your own traditions….one slice of cake at a time….:)

Recipe 

 I use a 26cm cake box – lined on the inside and then wrapped in newspaper and tied with string around the outside to ensure it doesn’t cook too quickly on the sides.

  • 2kg mixed dried fruit – raisins, currants, sultanas etc
  • 500g butter
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g chopped blanched almonds if you like
  • Brandy  (be generous)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 500g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • chopped glacé cherries if you like

Put fruit in covered bowl overnight with generous swigs of your chosen tipple until it’s well sozzled ( not a technical term but you get my drift) .The smell is divine and it will take all your will power not to eat it all there and then and forget the cake!

Next day put the drunken fruit, butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to stop the mixture burning ( very important!). Add lemon, spices, salt, chopped almonds and a bit more brandy.

Stirring continuously, simmer for 10 minutes, then add cornflour. Mix well and remove from heat. Leave to cool thoroughly.

Beat eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda, add alternately to cooled fruit mixture. Bake in the middle of the oven at 160˚C for 30 minutes. Then 120˚C for 4 hours. (Cooking times may vary depending on the oven.) Cool in the box, then wrap in greaseproof paper and foil to keep it moist. Put in air tight container somewhere dark and cool.

Bask in the heavenly scent of the cake.

I suggest you make the cake about 5 weeks before the big day and then every week carefully unwrap it and use a skewer to make a few holes to allow a few tablespoons of brandy to soak through it.

Then for the icing. Our family tradition since I was little involved my Dad “making” the cake. Actually what was really the case was Mum doing everything , including making a royal icing but Dad then swirling it on the cake to make snow patterns and placing Santa and decorations on top. His cake 🙂

Whether you have children helping with making christmas biscuits or cookies or whether you gift yourself time to do the whole cake thing in splendid Christmas peace , make time to create and enjoy your own traditions.

Fi