Thursday 7 December 2017

December 7th and The Christmas Cake

The recipe I use is a Mary Berry recipe from her previous incarnation ( Before Great British Bake Off) when she was writing for magazines as a Freezer Expert.

The pages were torn from a Very Old Family Circle magazine from about 1984.  There's a picture of MB and her 3  children aged 15,14 and 12. When I was trying to work out the date of the magazine  I found online that one of her children died in a car accident when he was only 19 - how very sad.

 I asked Col a couple of weeks ago if I should  bother with a Christmas Cake this year with him in hospital, and he reminded me that I could always take some into hospital for him to eat with an apple and a chunk of cheese - just how we like it for teatime on the days after Christmas
So the fruit was soaked in cold tea for 3 days and then I mixed it all up and baked. I made 1 ½ times the recipe this year to do 1 large and two mini cakes but then looked for the mini cake tins. Searched every cupboard twice then once more and can't find them anywhere. Surely I didn't take them to the car boot sale thinking I hadn't got room for them anymore? I'm almost positive that I didn't, so where the heck are they, I haven't got that many places they can be.
Anyway instead of one large and 2 mini, I made 1 medium and 1 small. One will be kept for January. I've bought icing and marzipan so will get that done nearer to Christmas after I've fed the cakes with a bit of Brandy.

I've got notes on the top of the recipe of the quantity I've made over the past few years and what sized cakes are made from the amounts used.

The recipe is on the separate recipe page if you need it but I expect everyone has a favourite cake recipe already.

 Thank you to an anonymous comment for putting me right on the spelling of mantel-piece. All these years I've assumed that as a MANTLE was a cloak that went over clothes then it must be MANTLE-piece going over the fire place, but NO, it should be MANTEL-piece. Well, you learn something new everyday.......and spell checker never told me I was wrong either!

Thank you to people who've left comments on old posts, I often forget to look back. The update from Addenbrookes is that Col has been having various chemo stuff since last Friday and isn't feeling too bad so far though tired from lack of sleep due to hospitals being such noisy places at night. He is in a room on his own but it still seems noisy out in the corridor and in the ward kitchen opposite his room. Years and years ago when I read hospital romances(! Heavens knows why?) I'm sure the nurses used to dim the lights and whisper at night.........

A comment from a Sarah asked if it was another superfluous and unnecessary  trend from The States to have  china tableware for use only at Christmas? (or in the fall)  I'm not sure but I know that my mum had a set of Colclough Ivy Leaf china that was only used for visitors and at Christmas and that was back in the 1960's. I don't know how long Portmeirion have been doing their Holly and Ivy ware, but quite a number of years?
 Luckily Sarah has a set of Wedgewood White Country Ware china from the 1980's to use, but  I now have a totally unnecessary yearning for the Holly and Ivy Butter idea why as I've never  before in my life owned a butter knife!

Back Tomorrow


  1. I always make two Christmas cakes. One is eaten at Christmas and the second is kept for almost a year (yes, it's fine!) to be eaten at the beginning of November leading up to Christmas. This year's Last Year Cake is divine!

  2. When I was a student nurse in the 1970s we used to put our armchairs in the middle of the ward and sit wrapped in our red cloaks so that we could see and hear everything that was going on. That was in the days of the long Nightingale wards. I hope Col continues to cope well with his chemo. Your cake will be just what he needs if the hospital food is as bad as it was when I was a patient last year!

  3. I make the Mary Berry Celebration Fruit Cake every Christmas and made one for my son took to London when we stayed with our son and daughter-in-law this year. It travels very well!

    Julie xxxx

  4. We never have a Christmas cake. I don't like the cake, icing or marzipan. Andy and Roz would like the cake but not the icing or marzipan so it's a bit of a waste of time.
    Ooops....I spell mantelpiece wrong too.....though obviously not now you've put me
    Sending good wishes for Col and hope that he continues to do well.

  5. Glad to hear that Col is coping okay with the latest treatment.

    I have a Christmas cake recipe I have used in the past, but no longer make Christmas cakes as it's only my husband that likes them. I don't mind a small slice with some cheese, but it isn't worth making one as my husband doesn't mind shop bought ones.

    I used to like Mary Berry, but I think she believes her own hype/publicity and is getting a bit ott. Since when was she an expert on anything other than cooking and baking?

    Joan (Devon)

  6. I always make one as my dad likes it. I think it will be a lovely treat for Col to have in hospital. I saw an interview with Mary talking about her son. I think her family are very close. Tragedy binds you tighter. I bet she does a lovely Christmas cake :)

  7. Col will really appreciate your cake when he is stuck in hospital over Christmas. Years ago my husband bought me a Spode Christmas Rose teacup, saucer and tea plate as I really like a china cup. It comes out on 1st December every year until end of January. I was only saying last week that if I ever won the lottery I would buy a whole dinner service in the same pattern.

  8. I only just finished our Christmas cake from last year in November and it got tastier the older it was. I am the only one who eats it and I did so sparingly to enable it to last.

  9. Lovely post, Sue. I make a Christmas cake every year normally. You may have seen my post showing it. I love the recipe as you mix all the ingredients except eggs, boil it up then add the eggs and bake for about an hour or so. I had mine spoil last year, have made two this year (one for Jon to take to work) so I must check they are both ok as not fed them for a week or so. I was born in Lincolnshire and we have a tradition of eating plum cake with cheese so totally get your cheese and fruit with the xmas cake and glad you and Col will be able to enjoy it together. As for superfluous crockery at Christmas, I have some not expensive dishes and plates that I always look forward to taking out and washing ready for things like mince pies- always use the same red one for that - I think it cost a few pounds from B and M about 10 years ago! Go you with holly and butter knives!x

  10. I remember as a young child buying my mother a freezer book by Mary Berry (who was very well known from magazines) as an Xmas present, as we had just taken delivery of a huge chest freezer having moved into a tiny village miles from anywhere.

  11. I have a set of 12 Christmas only china - a knock off of Lenox Holiday Ivy (which I could NEVER afford). I love them, even if I only use them once a year. But then I have 14 sets of dishes. Yes, 14. It's a sickness. In my defense, all but 2 have been purchased at garage (boot) sales or thrift shops and only 5 have service for 12 or more...

  12. I'm sure Col will appreciate the cake. A little piece of goodness and home while he's receiving his treatment.

  13. I'm glad Col is doing well, but sorry for his lack of sleep. I agree, hospitals just aren't good for sleep. Too noisy.

    Your cakes looks scrummy. I've been making/scoffing sausage rolls today! x

  14. "Fed the cakes Brandy" Ahhhh yes, that's the secret isn't it? My husband used to love my, what we call Fruitcake. But because of health issues, he can no longer have _any_ alcohol. -sigh- So his Christmas Time Fruitcake would not be the same.

    He still loves a Mincemeat Pie though.

    Oh yes, hospitals go 24/7 and more's the pity, for sleeping. Best of luck to your husband.

    -chuckle- "A comment from a Sarah asked if it was another superfluous and unnecessary trend from The States to have china tableware for use only at Christmas? (or in the fall)"

    If it's "superfluous or unnecessary" it must have come from The States! Ohhhhh my, oh my, oh my....

    Luna Crone

    1. just quoting a comment from yesterday, no offense meant

  15. My mum had special dishes that only came out at Christmas, and that was in England in the 50s and 60s. So I don't think it is something that came from the states. Even my grandmother had a few special dishes that she brought out on special occasions.
    I do a lot of baking for Christmas but I don't make a Christmas cake. I buy them after Christmas when they are greatly reduced and put them straight in the freezer. That way we can have Christmas cake all year round if we want it.

  16. I enjoyed reading about your Christmas cake recipe. And, I do hope your husband's procedure goes well. As to Sarah's comment RE American trend of Christmas china, I believe she's way off course. I'm addicted to dishes and my Christmas dishes are a popular German made brand. And, my daughters Christmas dishes are from a popular and well known pottery company from England! Not everything is bad here in the US :) I love all English pottery and my cupboards are bursting. Wishing you the best, Pat

  17. I didn't know there were such things as those butter knives but like you I want some.

  18. I have never made Christmas cake and have been told that I should as it is so much better than anything you can buy. Mom always bought Christmas cake and the texture as well as taste turned me off.

    My Mom's good china only came out on holidays and if we had company. I do the same with it as I inherited it when Mom died.

    God bless.

  19. I made marzipan one year and it was surprisingly easy - just ground almonds and icing sugar as I recall. My Christmas cake this year didn't turn out too well - too dry - so didn't warrant decorating.

  20. Now I'm wondering whether my friends and I are un-American! None of us have special Christmas china. I looked up some of the patterns mentioned here and they certainly are very pretty no matter where they come from.

  21. can collect as much holly and ivy china as you is beautiful. x

  22. I know many with special Xmas China for the dinner table. I have my husbands grandmother's Spode plates I use for all special occasions and a set of Spode Xmas tree pieces, various plates and bowls, I use for all the Xmas day treats. I am madly in love with holly so would have a tough time passing by your cake plate.