Holiday Baking Revisited 1/3 – Light fruit Cake (in its Christmas incarnation!)

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… and we are back! Despite the impression that my long, long blogging holiday break may have given, I do want to keep writing and sharing some of the things I’ve been making and thinking. I’ve decided that now, in late January, I needed to share some of my holiday baking adventures before it is absolutely too late! So to begin, this is my grandmother’s recipe for light fruit cake. It is very versatile and has been used over the years to celebrate birthdays, weddings, Christenings and Christmases alike. Rich with fruit, nuts and sherry, it is a recipe worthy of celebration! It would be fair to say that my appreciation for it has grown significantly in the last few years. Although it has taken a long (long) time, I have almost become one of those grown-up people who might sometimes enjoy cooked fruit or even baked goodies laced with dried fruit. And, for me, sometimes it is really more about the preparation and process of creating something edible and attractive anyhow, especially if I know that there are others around to enjoy it for me! So, with an essay on the evolution of cake (more on this to come!) behind me and Christmas on the horizon, I turned again to my recipe books and oven to make some homebred gifts. I chose to divide the mixture evenly between three ceramic ramekins (couldn’t find small cake tins the right size … and I didn’t have to line these with lots of newspaper which you need to when using a cake tin, a bonus for me!) so I could make a few gifts in one go. Two small cakes works well too, as does one lovely big generous one! I hope you might be able to celebrate something special by sharing this cake with friends and family one day too!

Ingredients
250g caster sugar
250g butter
5 eggs
200g sultanas
150g currents
150g fruit medley
100g glace cherries
150g chopped, blanched almonds
375g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
250ml sherry (in Australia it’s now labeled Apera, true ’sherry’ is made in Spain)
extra blanched almonds to decorate

Method
1. Preheat oven to 150o.
2. Soak the dried fruit in the sherry.
3. Double line the baking tins with butter and baking paper (to protect the cake from browning too much).
4. Wrap the outside of the tin with newspaper and tie it on with twine (again, to prevent burning the sides and base before the middle is cooked, only necessary if using traditional cake tins, this step is not necessary if you use ceramic ramekins as in the pictures).
5. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy using electric beaters.
6. Add eggs one at a time, beat well till combine the mixture as each egg is added.
7. Add flour and baking powder and beat gently till combined.
8. Finally, add the sherry, fruit and almonds, mixing till combined.
9. Place mixture into the tins, dividing mixture evenly between the desired number of tins. Decorate with blanched almonds.
10. If baking one large cake*, bake at 150oC for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 100oC and continue to bake for another, about 2 hours.
11. Remove from oven. Pour over another cup or so of sherry (share this amount between all cakes if more than one has been baked) then wrap the whole cake and tin in clean tea towel and let cool slowly.

*If baking two small cakes bake at 150oC for 45mins, then reduce temperature to 100oC and cook till done, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
If baking three small cakes bake at 150oC for 25mins, then reduce temperature to 100oC and cook till done, about 1-1 ½ hours.
These are just a guide and its worth just keeping an eye on your particular cake depending on the vigour of your oven!

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Aprons for Christmas

These aprons were Christmas presents for my grandparents! One of the most satisfying things to sew, nice and quick (they are a good gift to whip up!) but all the seams are neatly finished so they look tidy – which is satisfying for a sewer like me.

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Modeled by my (slightly silly) brother, this one was for my grandpa, a BBQ apron for boys! It was made from an up-cycled tablecloth from Vinnies.

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A cute elephant themed apron for my Minnie-grandma. She’s always loved elephants and is the gentle matriarch of our family, somewhat like family structure of the large mammals she has long been fascinated with.

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This pretty doily apron was for my Grandma-grandma, pretty and traditional. I think I want one like this too! The doily was very pretty and a find from a second hand shop.