It's Friday and time again to join in with Amy for Five on Friday. I'm going to share five photos with you this week along with a recipe...
I always try and put up the Christmas decorations the weekend following Thanksgiving. Each year it gets harder and harder. I think my OCD kicks in and I anticipate about having to take all this stuff down at the end of the holidays. But, nevertheless, I finished decorating and all is ready for the family to celebrate. Here's the fake tree in the living room...
It's the family's tradition each year to buy our fresh Christmas trees the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year our new little baby granddaughter joined in for the festivities. And, afterwards, we always go to Starbucks for holiday drinks. Here's my fresh little tree that I decorated this year for the family room. Please excuse the messy tree skirt as Lilly loves to sleep under the tree...
In the first picture you can see my fireplace mantel all decked out in gold and white. This is the mantel in the family room. I found these poinsetta lights at the bottom of my Christmas box. I think they're at least 20 years old. I experimented and this is what I came up with. The snowmen were made by my daughter, Heidi, when she was in 6th grade. I shared this photo with my daughter and she told me it was "unique". When I told her I was going to post it on my blog, she replied "that will definitely attract new readership"....(haha, she was being sarcastic, of course)
I have so enjoyed reading various blogs about making Christmas cakes. It's really not a popular item here but I was so intrigued with the recipes that I decided to make one myself. I read through Amy's post which was most helpful. I also read Sue's post and took down some notes. Here is my first Christmas cake. I was most pleased the way it turned out.
It's now all bundled up (after having a bath in brandy) and in a couple of weeks I will feed it a little more brandy. I'm excited to see how the flavors will ripen when I serve it on Christmas day.
Besides reading online about baking Christmas cakes, I watched my favorite program, At Home with Venetia in Kyoto. Venetia is a British woman who has lived in Japan for over 40 years. This past week she shared her version of Christmas cake along with her recipe which makes two loaf cakes. I halved the recipe in half to make one loaf cake. Here is what I did:
Venetia's Christmas Cake (with some tweaks)
At least 12 hours before mix the ingredients below in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter until the next day.
1/2 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups raisins (I used small raisins)
1 cup walnuts
1 four ounce container of red glace cherries, cut in half*
1/3 cup brandy
In a large mixing bowl combine these dry ingredients:
225 grams flour
125 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, mix the ingredients listed below:
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (scant) orange juice
2 tablespoons molasses
3/4 cup oil
zest from one orange
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take a 9" x 5" loaf pan and grease and line it with parchment paper or wax paper. (I used a long and narrow loaf pan and it worked fine).
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then mix in the fruit and nut mixture. Spoon batter in the prepared loaf pan. Level the top of the cake and decorate with walnuts or almonds. Place in the preheated oven in the middle rack. Bake for 1 hour and test with a toothpick to see if cake is done. If it doesn't test done then continue to bake it for longer. I baked mine for 1 hours 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so before removing the cake from the pan. Let cake cool completely and then brush the cake on all sides with 1/4 cup+ of brandy (or alcohol of your choice; whiskey, rum, cognac, etc.)
I put my cake into a tight fitted tin which I lined with plastic wrap. I wrapped the cake in wax paper and a tea towel. I placed a layer on plastic wrap on top of the tin before I placed the lid on it. Place in a cool place and in two weeks time, feed again with alcohol.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. I would love to hear about your Christmas cake baking and/or decorating. (I was confused as to whether I should soak the nuts along with the fruits but I think it turned out ok).
Until next time my best to each of you,
*Note: Venetia's recipe called for only 10 cherries and a 1/2 cup dates. I omitted the dates and added more cherries instead. She did not add orange zest to her cake. Neither does she frost her cake with marzipan and fondant. I was so confused as her recipe was listed in grams, cups and mils. A total mind teaser for me as a US baker only using cups! (I do have a scale now in my kitchen but it puzzles me each time I try and use it :(