I can just see my close friends spluttering out their tea with laughter as they see this post. Me! Giving cooking advice! Hahaha. It’s well known that I’m not exactly a domestic goddess. I have a sign in my kitchen that reads:
However, for many years I baked our Christmas cake at home in Carrick with my mother, Peggy. My father, Mickey, helped with lining the tins. This was in the pre-Teflon days! And my brother, Martin, was given the job of making sure the doors didn’t slam!
An old Irish “piseog” (superstition) warned that to slam a door (or indeed make any loud noise), while the Christmas cake was in the oven, would cause all the fruit to sink to the bottom and so ruin the cake. Now….. I don’t know how true this is …or the science behind it….the only thing I can say is that I never wanted to take that chance. I suspect that story was spread by Irish mammies looking for an afternoon of peace and quiet!
My recipe came originally from McDonnells Good Food Cook Book with a tweak here and there. I still have those wonderful little cookbooks by Paula Day from the 1980s that you got by collecting Stork margarine wrappers (Does anyone else have them out there?). They look like this:
So without further ado here is my recipe for an Irish Christmas Cake:
12 oz/350g Stork Margarine (at room temperature)
12 oz/350g castor sugar
12 oz/350g currants
12 oz/350g sultanas
12 oz/350g raisins
6 oz./175g glacé cherries washed, dried and quartered.
6 oz/175g mixed cut peel
Grated rind of 1 large orange
1 lb./450g plain flour sieved together with 2 rounded teaspoons mixed spice &
½ level teaspoon baking powder.
3 oz/75g ground almonds
7 large eggs, size 1
4 tablespoons whiskey
Oven Temperature: Pre-heat to Gas Mark 2-300 F-150 C
Shelf: Shelf below centre.
Size of Tin: 10 inch/25 cm round.
Approximate Baking Time: 4-4 ½ hours.
Almond Paste for the top and side of the cake
1 ¼ lbs./575g ground almonds
10 oz./275g icing sugar, sieved
10 0z./275g castor sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice or whiskey
½ teaspoon almond essence
2 eggs (size 1 or 2)
Royal Icing for the top and sides of the cake
2 lbs./900g icing sugar
4 eggs white
3 drops lemon juice
2 teaspoons glycerine (optional)
Time to reminisce:
I must add that in our house, we never did ice the cake….Mickey never liked the almond icing, Peggy never liked royal icing and Martin liked neither. I still remember those cold dreary November afternoons though with the cake in the oven. And the gorgeous aroma wafting through the house as the evening wore on. Until...... finally Mickey would ask “ Do you think it’s done now, girl?” And I’d finally lift it from the oven..... delighted with myself that I hadn't destroyed it or wasted Peggy's flour and fruit.
So, if you still have your parents alive be sure and get the family favourite recipes from them. You can scan or snap the handwritten ones with your phone. And file away for easy access and for passing on to your own children / grandchildren. If a Christmas Cake is a bit too much for you to bake with someone you love, why not try something simpler. For some great baking recipes try here.
Enjoy making memories with someone special!
What I wouldn’t give to be back in that kitchen with the fire burning surrounded by all that matters and all that I’ll ever need. Thinking of Peggy especially today on what would have been her 90th birthday. Forever in my heart xx.
“A Mother’s love’s a blessing
No matter where you roam.
Keep her while she’s living,
You’ll miss her when she’s gone.
Love her as in childhood,
Though feeble, old and grey,
For you’ll never miss a mother’s love,
‘Til she’s buried beneath the clay”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis x
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 35 - Food & Drink - Bake a Cake with Someone Special
Other Blog Posts
Blog 4 - London/ Singapore
Blog 5 - Perth, Australia
Blog 6 - Uluru, Australia
Blog 7 - Alice Springs, Australia
Blog 8 - Adelaide, Australia
Blog 9 - Melbourne, Australia
Blog 10 - Cairns, Australia
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
So have you ever baked with someone special? What do you remember most about it? Has your Christmas Cake ever flopped?
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!