where the writers are
It's starting to look a lot like Christmas
Christmas Cake

Here is my Christmas cake, it has already had two doses of brandy and has been transferred to a tin. The recipe is from the cake volume of the Good Cook Time Life series of cookbooks. Alas they are no longer in print, so look for them at used book stores. While the photography is no match to today's "food porn" it is very practical and informative. The step-by-step photos explain the techniques very clearly and they provide good reference. All the recipes in the collection are from previously published cookbooks. My fruitcake is Margaret Costa's recipe from her Four Seasons Cookery Book. This book has been reprinted by Grub Street in the UK,and is worth seeking out. Margaret's recipe makes two cakes, I halve it and mess around with it a little, I can't help myself. I toss the dried fruit with a good 60ml/1/4 cup of brandy and leave them for at least 24 hours to plump up. And, as you can see from the photo, I put blanched almonds on the top. This means I can forego the marzipan much to my husband's regret. This is a very simple cake to make; it is not really baking but construction. The batter composed of eggs, sugar and a little flour is just enough to coat the fruit and hold the whole thing together while it cooks.

As I have to wait at least until Twelfth Night or later before I cut it, I also made a stained glass cake so I have something to eat right away. This is another construction cake, candied or glacé fruits and nuts held together by the bare minimum of batter. You can use any mix of fruit that takes your fancy, but larger pieces make a more interesting cake. The trick is to slice it very thinly. Now that I have cake, shortbread is next on the list and then some mincemeat tarts.