Most years Christmas seems to creep up on us... this year it has rushed in
like a tsunami! Or is that just my imagination? Either way, it is certainly
time to make that Christmas cake which needs time to mature for Christmas.
I promised to share the story behind the name of this cake, which is how it
was described by my Nanna. Her Scottish mother-in-law was very fond of a
drop of whisky and when Christmas cake making time came she bought a bottle
of whiskey, ostensibly to use in the cake!
However, as the baking session proceeded Mammy enjoyed a considerably more
generous share than the cake and the daughters-in-law soon learned they
needed to stand by to take over to complete the baking procedure!
MOTHER-IN-LAW'S CHRISTMAS CAKE
250gr brown sugar
6 free-range eggs, beaten
Few drops vanilla, almond and coffee essence
6 TB whisky, sherry or brandy
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Grated rind 1/2 orange
180gr glace cherries, chopped
90gr skinned almonds, coarsely chopped
125g coarsely chopped walnuts
425gr plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spices
30gr mixed peel
Additional whisky or sherry
Line a large, deep cake tin with brown paper, then a layer of greaseproof
paper. Place a strip of brown paper around inside, then greaseproof.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the
beaten eggs in small portions, beating well after each addition.
Beat in essences, spirits, rind, chopped cherries and nuts.
Sift the flour with the spices. Fold half the flour and half the fruit
mixture into the mixture. Add remaining flour and fruit, mix well using
wooden spoon or hands.
Spoon into tin and smooth the surface.
Bake in a 150oC (slow) oven for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. If top browns too
quickly, cover tin lightly with paper.
Test with a skewer to ensure cake is cooked through. Remove cake from oven,
leave to cool completely. When cold, make several holes in the cake using a
skewer, drizzle in additional whisky, sherry or brandy.
NOTE: I always tie an additional brown paper strip around the outside of
The cake tin during baking time.
This cake keeps for months ... drizzle a little spirit on the surface from
time to time.
(For years I used to bake stacks of these cakes in 500gr tins to sell at the
Yering Station Farmers' Market and for gourmet food outlets and couldn't
keep up with demands!)
Ann Creber (The Good Life on 3MDR 97.1 FM, streaming on www.3mdr.com - Live to air Monday 3.00-5.00 P.M.)