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11 days to go…

December 13, 2012

Boo and I made Christmas cakes today – a little late I grant you, but I maintain that it’s better late than never. Boo came round bearing butter, eggs raisins, almonds and marzipan – “I thought if all else failed we could put marzipan in the cake” she said.  (Boo is feeling a little anxious about her impending birthday – don’t know why – this year she’s going to be the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything). Thankfully all else didn’t fail. The marzipan is waiting for the second phase  – as marzipan should.

christmas-cake5 christmas-cake2 christmas-cake3

We didn’t use Boo’s raisins as it turned out because I had loads of dried fruit in various stages of desiccation so I thought I’d revitalise it in the simmering oven of the AGA . Each cake needed 2lbs of dried fruit so I put currants, dates, apricots and prunes totalling the right weight into two bowls, poured boiling water over just enough to cover the fruit and then left them in the simmering oven for about two hours. The simmering oven in the AGA in this house is a bit of a misnomer really – it’s too cold to simmer things in, but it will revive dried fruit nicely. Not such a catchy name though.

The cake is a simple recipe – 8oz butter, softened, 8oz brown sugar, 8oz self raising flour, 4 eggs, 2lbs dried fruit (no nuts – or mealworms) and a large teaspoon of cinnamon.  mix it up in the usual way – butter, sugar then eggs, flour, fruit and spices.  You can faff around with grated apples and lemons, but I’m not sure I can ever tell the difference – mind you I usually make the cake in October…

AGAs aren’t the best thing to cook Christmas cakes in on account of the fact that the temperature is only minimally controllable – and Christmas cakes need a long time in a slow oven. The trick is to cook things on the boiling plate so that the oven is a little cooler before you put the cakes in. The beloved obliged by cooking himself some noodles with brussels sprouts, prawns, mushrooms and peas – that well known combination. Then you have to make sure that the cold shelf is really cold before you put it in the oven (the cold shelf reduces the oven heat – it’s literally a solid shelf of cold metal which you put in the oven above your cake). After that it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. This time the cakes were in the oven for about an hour and a half and then I transferred them to the simmering oven for an hour, and then back to the hot oven – with the newly cooled cold shelf. It’s taken hours, but I think they’re done now.

All that’s left is to put the marzipan on. And icing. Last year I made potato icing. I wonder if I can get away with it again?

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