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It is amazing how time is passing me by. One minute it’s halloween and the next it’s nearing the end of November and it’s time to get my act together and start ‘Operation Christmas’. This year I am absolutely determined to be ultra organised and under control. There will of course be a certain amount of panic towards the finish line (such as how to fit everyone around my little table) but as long as I have my food and shopping lists done, presents bought and wrapped and a gin and tonic in my hand, then all shall be fine!

It has been just about a week since I last posted on the blog, I have cooked a load of tasty dishes but just have been running three steps behind time. I don’t know what has kept me so busy in the last week, well actually I do… learning to poach eggs oh and spending a few hours making snowflake cutouts for the window! But aside from the eggs and the snowflakes, I really don’t know where time went.  I haven’t even had time to say that hey guess what, I was nominated for another award!!! The delightful Deliciouslynell kindly passed on to me last week the Versatile Blogger award and I promise that when I find the time to properly address it, I will do so with joy and appreciation. I can’t believe that people actually read my words and recipes, let alone think highly enough of this little blog to award me a versatile blogger award. So give me a few days and I’ll be back on track.

For the moment, it’s back to Christmas… This has to be done in advance and this is even cutting it a bit fine but get your Christmas socks on, turn on your Christmas music and start making your cake!! If you are like us, we don’t really like Christmas cake, or use not to until I made this cake. I don’t like fruity things, my sister only really likes the marzipan, my grandmother doesn’t like the nuts, D, well I think he’s only being polite by eating it, but never the less, I make a cake and everyone has to bloody well eat it! Having said that, this cake is actually quite tasty. I make one big square cake and when ready, I cut it into four and give three pieces away as presents. Works for me!

This recipe has a quantity of everything that I like. I load it up with figs and almonds and cranberries and once it has had a month of plying it with extra alcohol and a good covering of marzipan and icing then it’s ready and yummy. It is a good idea to make it at least a month in advance, it’s not essential but a good idea. This way, every week, you can turn it and brush with more brandy. And it keeps for ages so if you don’t finish it during Christmas then you can offer it to people who stop by for a coffee and a chat. So this is it, my Christmas cake…

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  • 850 g mixed fruit, such as raisins, cranberries and golden raisins
  • 100 g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 350 g dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 250 g butter
  • 250 g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp brandy, plus extra to feed

THE HOW

Heat the oven to 120 °c  (fan oven)/140 °c (normal oven)/ gas mark 1

Line the base and sides of a 20cm tin ( round or square) with a double layer of baking paper. In a large bowl mix the fruit, almonds and figs. Add the flour and spices and mix again.

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In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla, honey and treacle.

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White still beating, mix in the eggs. Dissolve the bicarb of soda in the milk and add to the mix. Stir the fruit and flour mix into the egg mix. With a spoon blend thoroughly so that there are no pockets of flour. Add the brandy and mix until you have a soft dropping consistency.

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Turn the batter into the prepared tin and make a dip in the center. Bake for 3 hours. Test it with a skewer – if it comes out clean it is ready and if still a little sticky give the cake another 10 minutes in the oven.

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Cool in the tin. Once cool, wrap the tin and cake in foil and leave for a day. That done, wrap the cake in parchment and then tightly in foil. Once a week, unwrap it and brush with more brandy. Keep in a cool dry place until ready to ice and make pretty.

Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the finished article but I will update this post with the finished item before Christmas.

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