Some people begin making their Christmas cakes as early as October. Indeed, some years I too have soaked the fruit as soon as Halloween is over.
I have been debating whether to make one at all this year. I didn’t make one last year because the one in the previous year was awful. I had used far too much alcohol and it made it inedible.
Then I thought I had left it too late. Was the middle of November too late?
Well the answer is no.
There are loads of options and recipes out there. Having already tried Mary Berry and Delia Smith, this year Nigella was the chosen one.
I set about getting my ingredients together.
Nigella’s cake was quite simple. Only two types of dried fruit and glace cherries. This pleased me as I am not really a fan of mixed peel and, in true style, I swapped the whisky for an orange liquor.
In the end the fruit got an extra day of bathing as I realised I didn’t have a big enough tin (my last tin broke the year of the too-boozy-cake and I hadn’t replaced it). Thank goodness for fast delivery. Then, when it arrived, I started to prepare the tin and I had run out of baking paper.
Anyone with two or more small children will tell you the inconvenience of having to tie them all into a car and herd them around even the smallest of shops is not worth the effort for one item so I waited until bed time and sneaked out for grease proof paper when the farmer came in.
I cut the paper to size and lined the tin when I got home, ready for the baking the next day.
Baking day arrived and I began a few times to collate the ingredients but had to stop because end baking time would collide with either school pick up or tea time.
One of the quietest times of the day is the hour after school when my eldest gets home on the bus. The two older one’s return amuses the youngest so I took this as the as my cue to turn the oven on and get started.
I hate chopping nuts so I tried to whizz the pecans with my hand held mixer. Alas, this was not to be and some of it looked more like pecan butter than beautifully chopped nuts so I conceded and got the knife out.
My favourite bit is adding the spices to the dry ingredients. The smell is just wonderful and creates so many memories of Christmas gone by.
I discovered the year that there are two different types of cinnamon. The one you can get from the supermarket is totally trumped by Ceylon Cinnamon Powder True which is a spice with a light yet warming flavour sensation and is the purest form of cinnamon you can buy. I already tried it in my porridge and it is truly delicious. I don’t think I will be going back to the other one. It made the cake smell so good.
Every time I make a Christmas cake, I marvel at the sheer size of it. You need to channel your inner strength to even lift it to the oven and I always have a wobble when I try to get it out of the tin.
I was surprised and curious to learn that the Nigella version tells you to put it in the cake tin warm to allow the cake to stay moist. I look forward to see how much of a difference that makes.
Now I have a few weeks to feed it and decide how to decorate it.
If you are yet to make your cake, you still have time.
*I was gifted some lovely ingredients from Buy Whole Foods Online but I bought everything else myself and all opinions are my own.