Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Cake

This year I am making our Christmas Cake.  Last year I bought one...dear Hubby wanted me to take things easy last  year, and I think I have been able to explain to him, that I really love baking, and with planning and preparation, there is nothing to get flummoxed about.  But I am writing this a few days before the day, and I have diaried my baking to cover each day....

Quite a while ago, I baked a little cake, 6 inches only, as I thought then that there would be just the two of us....but we shall be more, and anyway, if the cake is eaten quickly, it will be an excuse for me to try something else.

It has been fed a few times....I shall explain what this means.  The reason for the explanation is that I have had a lovely email from a friend living in the tropics saying how much he enjoyed my blog.....March Henri a neighbour of my late Mother.  When sorting out her home, we gave him her lovely Kenwood Chef with all the attachements.  It had been mine, and Mum has carted it all the way out there.  He is a great baker too, and is famous for his carrot cake.  The Kenwood had no end of attachements, Mum's old Kenwood which I can remember when very young, was on its way out, and with my work committments then, baking was taking a back seat.....and now I have recently heard that my dear friend Vicki in London is passing over her machine to me.....Just imagine all the cakes, bakes, etc made on these machines....

Feeding entails pricking the cake with a toothpick or anything fine and sharp, then drizzling brandy over it.  Not too much, only a teaspoon or two, just enough to have a nice moist feel.  The cake is matured over several weeks, then comes the day to cover the cake with Marzipan.  I make this myself, with eggs, almonds, two types of sugar, and a touch of lemon juice.  It is very malleable and easy to roll out to cover the cake.

First one has to cover the cake with something so that the marzipan sticks to it.  I searched the preserve cupboard and found that my last jar of summer apricot jam had been eaten.  In the end I bought a punnet of apricots which are really excellent at the moment, coming from the Southern Hemisphere for Christmas.  The jam was still warm when  it went on the cake.  Maybe I put on a little too much, but the taste of the jam is tart and a delicious contrast between the richness of the cake, and the marzipan.

The piece of string comes in handy for measuring the circumference of the cake and then rolling out the marzipan for the sides.  Its strange how memories come flooding in.  I went to Stretford Grammar School for Girls, for just over a year, before going to boarding school...and because I arrived too late to pick up German, I was placed in O Level Domestic Science....we had a really great teacher, and I remember making the cake over the autumn term.  I did all sorts of fabulous pipped decorations....

After a little rolling and smoothing, the cake is ready to 'dry' out for a few days, or else some of the oil from the marzipan may leach through the icing.

No fancy pipped  icing decorations this year.  As I played with the icing on the cake, smoothing it down the sides, I found a pattern made by the spatula pleasing to me....a little like the bark on a wood log.  With the pattern across the glass stand, reminding me of fancy ostrich feathers at the bottom of a ball gown. 

On the top when the icing is a little drier, I shall place a little scene which we have had for over 15 years.  As it is a little damp today, I have set the dehumidifier on to gently help dry out the icing.

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