Thursday, November 19, 2009

The very best Christmas Cake

I don't know if you have heard of 4 Ingredients. Two Sunshine Coast friends decided to get together and write a cookbook full of simple, quick recipes - all with 4 ingredients or less. They aren't chefs, they don't even like to cook but the book was a massive success in Australia and they have written several more. Rachel Bermingham is one of the authors and she came to our library on Wednesday for an author talk and taste-testing. Being more of an at-least-twelve- ingredients girl, I can't say that I was overly excited but despite the inconvenient time (her choice not ours) there were around thirty people who came to hear her story.

I won't relay her tale of achieving her dreams but I will tell you about the fruitcake she brought to share. It was made with 3 ingredients. One packet of mixed fruit, fruit juice and flour. I didn't taste it, not only because I am not eating cake until the wedding but because I just couldn't help but think of the Christmas cake I was to make the very next day and couldn't eat such a sad version. Everyone there loved it. Some people just don't like to be in the kitchen and aren't really fussed what they eat. Not me.

This is the second year that I have made a Christmas cake. Granny passed on the baton, and her recipe, to me. It is made not only with many ingredients, but with much love and tradition. It is also the best fruit cake that I have ever tasted. When Christmas is closer I will make my own marzipan and give the cake a thick layer of its almondy goodness. After a few days, when that has dried out, I will make some gorgeous white icing, not like fondant, that melts as soon as it hits your tongue. For now, I will share my family recipe for Christmas cake. It will take a while...

Brandy and rum to soak
2oz (56g) dried dates
2oz (56g) dried figs
2oz (56g) glacé apricots or pineapple
2oz (56g) glacé cherries
4oz (113g) chopped peel
8oz (226g) sultanas
8oz (226g) currants
8oz (226g) raisins
2oz (56g) blanched almonds
2oz (56g) walnuts, chopped
8oz (226g) butter
8oz (226g) brown sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
1 teaspoon each Parisienne, vanilla and almond essences
1 teaspoon each glycerine and golden syrup
1 dessertspoon plum jam
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
4oz (113g) dark chocolate, melted
10oz (285g) plain flour

1. Prepare fruits and sprinkle with equal quantities of brandy and rum. Leave overnight or longer (I leave mine for a few weeks if I have time).
2. Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in well.
4. Add glycerine, golden syrup, jam and orange rind and juice.
5. Add melted chocolate.

6. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with fruit and nuts.

7. Spread into 8 inch square tine lined with 2 sheets brown paper and one sheet of baking paper, extending 2 or 3 inches above tin. Lining the tin is the least fun part.

8. Bake in very slow oven for 3 1/2 - 4 hours.

9. Brush hot cake with brandy and wrap with a double layer of foil to keep the top soft. When cool, take out of tin and wrap with foil and place in a container until needed. This cake keeps pretty much forever.
I count 27 ingredients!


  1. My mouth waters reading through that recipe; though I don't recognize someof the ingredients. Parisienne and golden syrup, what are those?

  2. Hey, you missed a couple of generations! I made this cake FOR YEARS... not to mention for your wedding! And I concur, it is the best ever fruit cake... I think it was also made by your great-grandmother, back in the UK, as was the marzipan.. Tricia - not sure how to describe Golden Syrup - it is a product of sugarcane - I think it goes like this: sugarcane, molasses, treacle, golden syrup - so it is quiet light in colour and not as sweet - does that make sense? I'm sure you would have it, just call it something else. As for Parisienne essence - I don't really know what it is!

  3. I was disappointed to miss out on those four ingredients! Did you take photos? I just can't get my head around it and it certainly doesn't sound palatable. I think I have to lie down again just thinking about it.