Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dark, Rich Fruit Christmas Cake recipe

Last time I made this cake I added a layer of Marzipan (because DH looooves it!) under an equal quantity of Royal Icing. This cake is very rich and I love to use my really nice eggshell china as a special treat. A number of people have asked for the recipe, so here it is:
22 cms round or 20cms square pan Oven Temperature: 160°C Cooking time: 2 hours
1½ cups (270g) sultanas
1½ cups (270g) currants
1½ cups (270g) raisins or muscatels (or a mixture of both)
⅓ cup chopped (60g) glace cherries
⅓ cup (60g) chopped prunes
⅓cup (60g) chopped figs
⅓ cup (60g) mixed peel (or you can use a good quality marmalade)
½ cup of brandy or madeira or other according to choice (fruit juice can also be used)
⅓ cup (40g) roasted & chopped almonds
⅓ cup (40g) chopped pecans
2 cups (300g) plain flour
½ cup (75g) S R flour
1 teaspoon each of mixed spice & cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup (250g) non salted butter
1 cup (180g) brown sugar
5 eggs (size 60), beaten – if mix seems a little dry, add another egg

Place mixed fruits, cherries, peel, nuts, etc in a large saucepan. Combine with butter, sugar, spices. Stir gently over medium heat until butter has melted; bring to boil & boil 3 mins. Remove from heat & allow to completely cool.

Add liquid of choice (brandy/whatever), beaten eggs & mix well. (Add marmalade at this step if used). Mix well. Add sifted dry ingredients & mix well again (but gently).

Line pan with 2 layers of greaseproof paper or baking paper. They need to be 3-4cms higher than pan. Stand prepared pan on three layers of heavy paper just below oven centre.

Bake @ 160°C for 1 hour. Gradually reduce oven temp to not less than 130°C for a further hour. Leave cake in pan. When beginning to cool prick holes in top of cake with skewer and brush while still hot with more brandy/whatever. Allow cake to cool completely in pan.

Decorate as desired. Cake stores well when wrapped, etc.

Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus!!

We are having Christmas in MOvember this year. Some family members are not able to travel, others are going away for well-deserved holidays. So we are meeting up in Melbourne for the weekend to swap pressies and go out for a nice dinner somewhere. DH's spinal procedure was successful, he's recovered so he's able to travel & sleep in a 'normal' bed - so he's coming too. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing!!Yesterday afternoon I prepared the fruit for a very, very yummy boiled fruit cake for SIL. It has figs, prunes, currants, raisins, muscatels, mixed citrus peel which I bottled in brandy, apricots from our own trees which I also bottled in brandy, lots of spices & more brandy brushed over the hot cake. I used this recipe a few years ago & it was soooooooo yummy! It's rich and very moist - you only need a finger of it at a time. It weighs about the same as a small car. The top cracked a bit, but I don't think anyone will mind. I bought a couple of bottles of really nice reds and half-bottle of de Bortolli botrytus white dessert wine so we can all have what should be a very enjoyable Christmas drink together.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wol, the Psycho Penguin

It was a hot day yesterday -30 degrees- the first hot one of the season. I really HATE summer, so I turned the AC on & decided to do the embellishment on this soaker. It's one of Tanja's charts, but this is not what she had in mind when she created it! It's not supposed to look like a chubby biker penguin wearing a stack hat ~ it's supposed to be an owl. I was out on the stitch count & lost my place in the chart. After that it was all downhill to this crazy creation. Reminds me of the mad frog that was all the rage a few years ago...can't remember what it was called. I'm blaming this failure on the hot weather! It's hot again today and humid as all get-out. Big thunder storms are predicted and it sure feels like they are on the way. Time to batten down the animals and make sure they'll be safe during the storms. The Swap Meet is on this weekend. It's the biggest one in the Southern Hemisphere - so they tell us! It's either wet & muddy; or hot as Hades every year, no in-between. People come from all over the world to this swap meet and there are many thousands of extra people. It gets mad on the roads so the police always have a huge blitz on - doing roadworthy checks, etc. It's a good three days to stay at home. So I will!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

oh, oh, Babushka, Babushka, Babushka, oh, oh

The whole time I was working on this set, that 1980s Kate Bush song would not leave me alone! It's in my head right now as I write this. I hope it goes away soon! Any hoo, this little set will be available for sale at Woolly Butts during the first week of December to raise funds (as usual) for the Kate Buntine Foundation arm of Juvenile Diabetes. The skirty soaker is knitted using 10ply WOOLganic yarn in the Woolly Butts colourway "Sing A Rainbow". The individual colours are so pretty. I enjoyed every stitch of this piece. I was disappointed that it pooled a bit, but it's really not that bad. The tee is a soft buttery yellow and the Babushka dolls are all hand appliqued, using silk thread .. even the tiny one on the neckline at the back.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rain, rain go away!!!

We have had soooooo much rain here. The wettest for 40 years the older farmers tell us. Didn't think I'd ever say this ~ but I am sick, sick, sick of it! Sick of mud up to my ankles. Sick of constantly changing the animals' bedding. Sick of rescuing flooded (native) birds' nests with fledglings in them. Sick of cleaning crud from the verandahs. Sick of trying to light the heater using wet wood. That'll do - you get the idea. There has been an upside though. My Arum Lillies are growing like crazy and they are so pretty atm. The hummingbird has a solar panel and it has lights inside which constantly change colour. Real pretty.