Half way through half-term and I'm so enjoying it. Not that I don't like my job. It's just that I like being off a little bit more. I still get up fairly early, which is new to me, and it's so nice to have breakfast in peace, reading the news, blogs etc without having to rush.
I met up with Mrs. G. yesterday and when she mentioned that she really misses going up to the allotment as often as we did before, I had to disagree. I feel quite relieved that we don't need to "visit" as often. It's time to spend the time not working doing fun things like sewing, knitting, crocheting and baking. I've got lots to do and not enough time!
I always bake the Christmas cake at half-term and this year is no exception.
I soaked the fruit mix in brandy over night and mixed it with the cake mix this morning.
4 layers of wrapping, string and off it went into the oven.
Four hours later it was ready. I hope it'll be moist as I'm not a fan of dry fruit cakes. I then wrapped it up again, poured in some more brandy and put it in the cake tin I especially bought 14 years ago when we had just move here and I baked my first Christmas cake. This is where it'll stay now until the week before Christmas, only being fed every second week or so. I fed it with rather a lot of brandy every week the first time I made it and the result was more or less brandy with a bit of fruit...
The recipe is one I picked up in Sainsbury's all those years ago. I scale it down to about 2/3 as we'll have Christmas cake until the summer otherwise.
1.5 kg dried fruit mix
100g pecan nut halves
50g while blanched almonds
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange or lemon
5 tbsp brandy
Mix all of the above and leave overnight.
325g white flour
1tbsp ground cinnamon
50g ground almonds
275g dark muscovado sugar
275g softened butter
2 level tbsp black treacle
5 medium eggs
Mix the above to a smooth and glossy mix. Fold in the fruit mixture and blend evenly. Spoon the mixture into a tin, lined with greaseproof paper. Make a depression in the centre of the mix. Wrap the tin in double layer brown paper, or newspaper. Bake in the middle of the oven at 140 degrees C for 4-5 hours.
When the cake has cooled down, prick it with a fork, pour over some brandy, wrap it in double layer of greaseproof paper and tin foil. Store in an airtight container somewhere cool (I keep it in the garage). Feed with some brandy every two weeks.
It's very easy and rather delicious.
This didn't take very long so the rest of the day involved painting the landing (2 coats, one more tomorrow), walking into town with the younger Master M., drinking lots of tea and getting all excited about the parcel that the postman brought.
I'm going to knit a cardigan for myself and the colour is even prettier than I thought. First I have to finish a hat for Mr. M. for when he's running in the cold and those legwarmers for Little Miss M. I've decided to start again as I found a prettier pattern somewhere I can no longer remember. Luckily I had copied it into a Word document so I'm now making "bubbly" legwarmers. I feel rather exhausted after this hectic day and can't wait till I can sit down and do a bit of crocheting. First though, I have to cook dinner and then paint a little bit more...