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Monday, December 14, 2009

Aussie Christmas Cake from Chris Cheng

You may not be celebrating the holidays down under, but Chris Cheng, distinguished recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for services to children's literature, author of 60 Classic Australian Poems, The Melting Pot and many other books for children, and all-around excellent fellow, is here to share his famous (infamous?) Christmas Cake Recipe for our up-over enjoyment!

Chris not only translated the ingredient measurements for western kitchens, but he documented its fabrication step-by-step. Thanks, Chris!


Christmas Cake

Bake this at least 2-3 weeks before you want to start devouring it (6 weeks is great) … and I guarantee you won’t want to stop!

3 cups of chopped raisins*
1 ½ cups sultanas*
1 ½ cups currants
½ cup mixed peel
100g chopped glace cherries
¾ cup brandy
½ tsp almond essence (optional)
250g chopped unsalted butter softened
½ cup brown sugar**
½ cup white sugar**
2 tbs*** treacle
4 eggs
2 cups sifted plain flour
½ cup sifted self raising flour
1 tbs*** sifted mixed spice
2 tsp*** sifted nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 orange juiced and grated
½ cup brandy

* sometimes I swap and have 3 cups of sultanas and 1 ½ cups of chopped raisins.
** sometimes I use 1 cup of brown sugar instead of ½ and ½.
*** note these are Metric measurements for tbs and tsp. In the USA the cake will be a little more or less spicy / sugary … but just a touch.

Mix the raisins, sultanas, currants, peel and cherries in a large bowl. Pour in brandy and essence (optional). Stir well. Cover bowl with cling film and stand overnight, stirring (when you remember) to soak the fruit in the brandy!!!

Heat oven to 160 deg Celcius (320 deg F) and line the base of 22cm (8.5 in) spring form tin with baking paper.

Add chopped butter and sugars to the bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light and creamy. Add treacle and continue beating. Add eggs one at a time beating well between each egg.

Add the creamed mixture to the fruit. Stir to combine.

Add sifted flours, spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange rind and juice. Stir till just combined.

Add mixture to lined tin. I add a small dollop of the mix to the back of the baking papers so that they won’t slide around as the mix is poured in.

Smooth the top of the cake mixture with a wet (you can use water but brandy is yum) wooden spoon.

Drop the tin a few times on the bench to help the mix settle in the tin and remove air bubbles.

Wrap two layers of brown paper around the outside of the tin. This stops the outside of the cake burning. Tie firmly with string.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 3 – 3 ½ hours or until skewer comes out clean.

Remove from oven, undo outside papers and pour over remaining brandy.

Place cake in tin on tray and cover with clean tea towels until cake is cold – often leave overnight.

Remove from tin and cover several times with cling film.

Do NOT eat cake straight away. Well you can if you are really desperate but it is better to leave the cake to mature. Continue to add ½ cup of brandy each week for 3 – 4 weeks. I have cooked a cake in November and then left the cake at the top of a cupboard stored in an airtight container until Christmas – that’s Christmas in JULY!

This is an awesome recipe I have used for yonks but beware. Not only are they delectable, they are heavy too! I make a number of cakes this size. This recipe makes a cake weighing 2.5 kg (5 lbs). I also use smaller tins and make cakes to give as Christmas presents. The recipients love it. Of course the cakes are wrapped in appropriate Christmas wrapping (and still in cling film). In fact my cousin in Hong Kong has requested one! For a 15cm (6in) square tin I cook the cake for about 1 ¼ hours. You can also get pre-shaped baking containers from speciality stores to bake the cakes. Just make sure they are lined appropriately!

… and Enjoy!


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