I always start soaking the fruit for Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings at Half Term, so I have weighted, measured, chopped, washed, dried and then covered in alcohol all the fruit this morning with the minimads. We tend to use what we have or rather what alcohol my mum has open (so it was a mixture of sherry, brandy and rum this year).
Last year we gave out mini Christmas cakes as part of our presents and they went down really well and were very easy to make and simply iced (well you cant really do ornate with a three and two year old helping and as you know its all or nothing here).
4oz glace cherries
3oz mixed peel
1/4 pint sherry or other booze
6oz soft brown sugar
4oz SR flour
4oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1oz ground almonds
Mix together all fruit. Pour sherry over and leave to soak for at least 1 week, covered. Stir frequently until required or heat your booze and then add fruit.
Grease & line a 7 - 8 inch cake tin
Cream butter & sugar until soft & fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time.
Fold in flour, salt & ground almonds.
Drain off any liquid from the fruit and mix fruit into mixture stirring until well blended.
Put into prepared tin, smooth top and bake just below middle of oven for 1 hour at 160 gas mark 3. Then cover with foil and reduce oven to gas mark 2 150 and cook for a further 1.5 hours until firm to touch.
Leave to stand in tin until nearly cold. Remove from tin, prick well and pour over liquid from dried fruit.
Wrap in foil or greaseproof paper and leave to mature until a few days before Christmas, then marzipan and ice.
These quantities will fill 4 x 1 pint basins, 3 x 1.5 pint basins or 2 x 2 pint basins.
1/2 lb currants
1/2 lb sultanas
1/2 lb raisins
1/2 cup of brandy
1/2 cup of orange juice
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 lb soft brown sugar
6 oz unsalted butter
1/2 wine glass of brandy
4 oz plain flour
4 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
2 oz mixed peel
1 oz slivered almonds
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Rind of 1 lemon
The currants, raisins and sultanas will need washing even if the packet says 'washed' or 'ready to use' as they are always thick with oily gunge.
wash under running warm water and dry thoroughly by spreading out on a table or work surface and patting with kitchen paper and clean tea towel.
Once dry and mixed in a bowl, soak the dried fruit (I soak for at least a week) in 1/2 cup brandy, the orange juice and lemon juice.
Beat the sugar and butter to a cream until light and fluffy. Add flour, spices, fruit and crumbs and lemon rind. Mix well.
Beat the eggs in a separate basin for 10 minutes and add the brandy. Pour the egg mixture over the other mixture and mix well for 20 minutes
Grease the basins liberally with butter and fill each one to 2/3 full. Cover with a pleated square of grease proof paper. Tie the cloth and paper down over the rim of the basin with string. Tip - first pop an electric band round the basin and cloth or greaseproof paper, then the string, then remove the elastic band, this is much less fiddly.
Stand each basin in a saucepan of water to half its depth. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and allow to bubble slowly for about 8 hours. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL DRY! When they are cool you may safely store them in the grocery cupboard for several years!
On the day, stand the pudding in a saucepan of water and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours till heated through.
We use cake decorations on ours that were my grandma's - I love the retro feel.
So the fruit is soaking and all the other ingredients are in the pantry. I will keep you updated on when to start the mixing and cooking.