Christmas Cake

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This is my great grandmother’s recipe. It is a very nice, light fruit cake that my grandma (and therefore my mum and aunties) have made often as a Christmas cake. I think her original recipe (the one my grandmother gave to me) was called a birthday cake, which is appropriate as Christmas is, indeed, a birthday celebration of sorts. The quantities of fruit can be modified depending on the dried fruit you have on hand, more saultanas, less fruit medley, dates instead … the combinations are really up to personal taste. It is quite tasty and very festive when nicely wrapped. I hope that you (and your kin) enjoy it!

Ingredients:
250g caster sugar
250g butter
5 eggs
200g sultanas
150g currants
150g fruit medley
100g glace cherries
375g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
250ml cooking sherry (plus an extra 1/4-1/2 cup of sherry to pour over the cake at the end)
125g blanched almonds*

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
2. Soak the dried fruit in the sherry.
3. Double line baking tins with butter and baking paper, then wrapt the outside with newspaper and tie it on with twine.
4. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy using mix master or electric beaters.
5. Add eggs one at a time, beat well till combined after each one.
6. Add flour and baking powder and beat gently till combined.
7. Add the sherry, fruit and most of the almonds. Mix till combined.
8. Place the mixture in the tin, smooth out with a spatula so that the batter goes to the edges of the tin.
9. Make a pretty pattern with the remaining almonds on the top of the cake.
10. Cook in oven at 150˚C for 1 hour, then reduce temperature to 100˚C and cook for another 2 hours.
11. Remove from oven. Pour over the extra sherry. Wrap in a clean tea towel and let cool slowly.
12. Serve and share or gift to loved ones!

*Place raw almonds in boiling water for a minute or two, till the skins start to lift, then remove from the hot water and refresh them in a bowl of cool water. ‘Pop’ the almonds out of their skin by squeezing between two finger. Discard the skins.

The last pictures are of little puddings made with crumbled fruit cake mixed with (fairtrade, organic) cocoa and a little milk/water to moisten. They were then iced with a mixture of melted white chocolate, icing sugar and milk and topped with snipped jelly snakes! Very happily received!

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