Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five on Friday Christmas Happenings

 Hello dear friends and new readers.  I had this post all written up and saved to publish today but I feel I need to add a footnote.  As you may have heard, a terrible tragedy took place in San Bernadino, CA yesterday.  My heart and prayers goes out to the families who have lost loved ones and those who are injured.  This has hit really close to home.  Our world needs fixing...

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 :(


  1. Love how you decorate your trees Pat, you should tell your daughter that readership went up by at least 5% and see her reaction!!! Again thanks for reminding me about the lady in Japan, I was side-tracked last week and forgot to look her up Have a great week x

  2. Thank you, Pat, for this lovely, Christmassy post!
    Your Christmas trees and fireplace mantels are really beautiful and the snowmen look very cute! The cake looks and sounds just delicious. :)
    Have a great weekend and enjoy your Christmas preparations!

  3. Hello, Pat!
    I'm here through Sara's blog. I'm Nadezda from Saint Petersburg. I love reading your posts, watching photos. I love most the first one, with Christmas tree and poinsettia lights.

  4. Your little tree is very pretty! I love the poinsettia lights, too! I have never seen any like them. The Christmas cakes sound delicious. Isn't it nice to fill the kitchen with delicious smells this time of year? It is so sad and disheartening about the latest news. Praying for all those poor families who lost a loved one. Wishing you comfort and peace. Hugs xo Karen

  5. It was very sad to read about the news from San Bernadino & I quite agree that the world does need fixing. On a happier note I loved your description of bathing your Christmas cake - I've not made one for a couple of years but I recall sprinkling it liberally with brandy weekly prior to decorating. I hope you enjoy yours xx

  6. Yes, you are right, the world needs fixing. My thoughts go out to all and everyone. Your house looks lovely, all decorated for Christmas. I just baked my Christmas cake yesterday, it is now maturing with a healthy dose of calvados. Have a lovely weekend. x

  7. You have certainly made your home beautiful and welcoming with all your Christmas decorations. Hope you enjoy the cake, its one of my favourite things to eat over Christmas along with mince pies.

  8. That Christmas cake looks fabulous....I can vividly imagine the taste. What a lovely blog you have too!

  9. Your home is beautifully decorated and your Christmas cake loooks very tasty, I have made mine but have yet to start feeding it with a little sherry or brandy each week, then it will need icing. I find the news so distresssing at the moment, so much heartache and tragedy one can only ask 'why?':)

  10. Such a horrible tragedy this time of year, well really any time of year. Love your decorations and your tress.

  11. Way to go, making Christmas cake! I tried one year and it was awful but your recipe looks good!
    Your house looks very pretty and I think it's cute that Lilly likes to hide under the tree!

  12. I love that you are Christmas cake making! I hope that you enjoy it! I think that your decorations are beautiful, trees and mantel! As for the latest tragedy, I don't know what else to say either. So sad. Thank you for joining Five On Friday. I hope that you have a great weekend! xx

  13. Beautiful decorating Pat and that cake looks delicious! My cats Lily and Ginger keep messing up our tree skirt too ;-) Have a great weekend.

  14. Your decorations look lovely and the Christmas cake looks so tasty! You've reminded me I must get baking - I haven't made our Christmas cake yet!
    Have a great weekend!
    Barbara xx

  15. I applaud you for making a Christmas cake! I do enjoy some this time of year but my mother's is my favourite and I leave it to her!
    Beautiful Christmas trees and mantel!
    Have a good weekend!

  16. It's very exciting isn't it! Your cake looks great, won't be long before you can eat it. :-)

  17. Good work on the Christmas cake. Our daughter use to live in San Bernardino, it's a scary world we live in know.

  18. The news near you and my sister is so tragic...the world still needs the Savior...
    My mom used to make fruitcake at Christmas. I don't remember what kind of alcohol she soaked it in, but folks seemed to like it :) I hope you enjoy yours, Pat! xx

  19. Nice to see a glimpse inside your home at Christmas time. Sounds like a good recipe

  20. Bravo for making a Christmas cake, Pat! I do hope you enjoy it. I soak the fruit but not the nuts when I make one. Your Christmas trees look very pretty :-) xx


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