Have yourself a boozy little Christmas… Cake

So it’s Christmas time once again.

Bring out the buntings, clamber up onto your loft (your attic or basement) and get out the ornaments. Put up your tree… don’t forget the angel on top, and the lights… and try not to electrocute yourself.

Put up the crib… we put Jesus in at midnight at my parents place, where we all gather for lunch, if we’re in town… after all Christmas is about tradition and family.

But Christmas is also about cake… and the boozier, the better.

So here’s my recipe. The base recipe was from a woman who’s cooking class my sister attended years ago. But I’ve tweaked it over the years, reworking, adding and subtracting elements.

I usually bake this cake for my parents every Christmas… another tradition. So I guess I should call it ‘Ma n Pa’s Boozy Christmas Cake’.

This one’s for them!

And now comes the most important part… aka… ‘Steeping the fruit in alcohol’.

I use a combination of angelica, mixed peel, raisins, glacé cherries and black currants… chopped (raisins halved and black currants whole), bottled and then drowned in enough rum to allow the liquor to seep into every fibre of the fruit, plumping them up. My mother usually soaks the fruit in rum for close to a year.

This year I decided to get heady and used a combination of aged whiskey soaked black currants with the rest of the rum soaked fruit… and it worked!

So onto the cake….

Start with creaming the butter and powdered sugar.

I actually used a weighing scale and measured out the ingredients instead of going the cup route (at least for some of the ingredients).

190gms of butter and powdered sugar each to 240gms (about 2 cups) of flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of baking powder. (If you’re using unsalted butter do not add salt, otherwise you may want to add in about a quarter to half a teaspoon to the flour.)

At this stage measure out the fruits into a bowl, about 3 cups of the fruit. Since I soaked the black currants separately my ratio was about 2 3/4 cups of the balance of the rum soaked fruit mix, and about 4 tablespoonfuls of the black currants. Add in a couple of tablespoonfuls of the liquor from each bottle as well as the juice of a lime (half a lemon if you’re using lemons) and the zest of one lime.

I don’t use store bought mixed spice and prefer to make my own… a blend of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika for this cake, blending the spices in a mortar and pestle, before adding it to the fruit mix. Then cover and reserve for later.

After creaming the butter and sugar, add in the eggs. Four large eggs are perfect… whipping them in a separate bowl and adding them one at a time.

Add in the vanilla extract (about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon should be enough) and about 5 tablespoons of caramel. Be sure to taste at this stage to ensure that your caramel isn’t bitter.

Once the ingredients are blended… mix in the fruit. Often recipes call for mixing the fruit into the flour and bunging the flour mixed fruits into the butter, sugar and egg mix, but I prefer it this way.

Add in the flour and baking powder mix (i.e. the dry ingredients) to the wet ingredients, folding it in, a little at a time, till well incorporated (i.e. till a luscious batter is formed).

Then pour the batter into a prepared cake pan. I used a rectangular cake pan (9 1/2 x 7 inches – on the inside)…

Bake in a preheated 150 degrees C oven for about 1 hour 50 minutes (as this cake is rather dense) or till a thin skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. And I still had a little left over to make a heart shaped cupcake.

The baker’s reward!

Merry Christmas!

And here’s wishing everyone a generous helping of peace on earth, a huge dollop of joy and a extra large serving of happiness!

Amen and Shalom!