Friday, November 23, 2007

This week I've been busy...

...waiting for the cake to appear.

Or perhaps I should clarify....trying my hand at my first ever Christmas Cake!

Every year, since throwing off my student garb, I have wanted to make our very own Christmas Cake, but have never found the time.

Before children I was too busy (I can't remember what I was busy doing, but I was)....

Then when I had children, I was far too busy that I couldn't find time to make a cake.

However, this year is the year of my inaugural efforts. Having been inspired by our local Nigella and Alasdair (Man about The House) I thought I'd give it a go and went to the supermarket to buy everything I needed. However, despite Alasdair's World's Best Christmas Cake recipe, I thought I'd stick with the real Nigella's, which might just turn out to be the second best Christmas Cake.

Not being one for following recipes or shopping lists, I had to firstly "get over myself". When I paid the bill at the checkout, I then "fell over myself" at the cost! How much! I think I'm going to have to make three to make it cost effective!

Having bought the ingredients on Monday, I arose with great vigour on Tuesday, ready to make the lovely cakey and opened up the recipe book... how did I miss the bit that said "soak dried fruit in alcohol overnight".

Please, I know I am a novice so give me a chance.

Not to be defeated, I decided to soak the fruit during the day, with great optimism that I might be able to get on with making the cake that evening.

But true 21st C Household fashion... that didn't quite happen. So pray tell, the dried fruit was actually left soaking for three days and three nights until today....

...when I found myself at home for long enough to get on with making the damn thing!

With the dried fruit duly soaked, thrice over. I mixed the butter, the sugar, the eggs then the flour and the spices and folded the intoxicated fruit into the mix, before popping it in the oven.

Oh if it was only that easy.

Those in the know will testify that it is actually very easy...

...except if you live in this 21st C Household and your cake making effort involves a major multi-tasking exercise of doing the washing up, some research on the computer, making fund-raising phone calls for our school's Christmas Fair (and getting very excited about news that we are going to receive a surprise donation from a production company), ordering flight tickets to Inverness for a family reunion, picking up youngest lad from nursery and then trying to temper his enthusiasm to pour whole bottle of Marsala (not recommended by Nigella) over the pre-baked and post-baked cake.

(I should clarify here that Nigella gives no such advice about how to handle pre-schoolers and Marsala....just the Marsala)

So, at last having started soaking on Tuesday and mixing at 10.30 this morning, it is a miracle that at 4.30pm this afternoon I pulled a Christmassy scented and wonderfully appealing cake from our oven.

The image you see is the cake tucked away in its foiled coat, soaking in the Marsala and retaining its moist texture.

So, please, I invite you to crack open a bottle of wine and share a toast with me...

"To.... er...erm......the Christmas Cake..."

and pray that after such efforts, it will actually last until Christmas Day.


a.n.other said...

If you need someone to try a small core sample of your cake before you decorate it you can certainly ask me !!

21st Century Mummy said...

Hello a.n.other, you would be very welcome, except that you might be beaten to it by two pairs of little legs. ;-D

Alasdair said...

yay the 2nd best christmas cake in the world, mmm nigella, yummy! The cake I mean!?

Of course it's better if it's soaked longer and the more alcohol the better, ahem, allegedly!

21st Century Mummy said...

I'd best go and add the Marsala then Alasdair. It would be a shame not to.

Laura McIntyre said...

I think your brave for even trying, i can not bake to save myself - plus im the only one in my family who would eat it. Sounds yummy though

21st Century Mummy said...

Hi Laura - I think you'd be surprised how easy it actually is. For years it felt daunting and as I am normally one for spontaneous actions rather than well planned ones, the thought of planning a Christmas cake seemed an unsurmountable challenge. If you find you've got about half an hour to spare, give it a go (but try not to multi-task while doing it) ;-D