Its beginning to smell alot like Christmas!

Next week is my turn to provide the tea, coffee and cakes/biscuits at my private sewing group. To say I’m just a little bit nervous is an understatement. Although I have been welcomed by the majority of the group and really made to feel at home, there is just a very small minority of the group that are having trouble adapting to the change. I do think, that I am pretty scary to look at, – well I frighten me when I catch sight of myself in the mirror. And sometimes people find it difficult to get past that. I’m sure it will be fine and as my gran used to say, “it will all come out in the wash”, meaning it will sort itself out. But until that time I thought I would try and win them over with cake.

I get the feeling that they are all championship quality bakers especially in the Victoria sponge department, so there is no way I am going to compete in that arena. But I have been making Delia’s Christmas cake recipe for over twenty years and as Claire (my knitting pal) said, “Play to your strengths Mandy”, so that is what I am doing.

I know that this recipe is sound as long as you don’t splash extra brandy in, (you think your doing yourself a favour, in fact you find yourself with a cake that won’t cook properly and remains soggy in the middle – ask me how I know!) and it needs to be wrapped up well for the oven, otherwise you end up with a crusty dark and bitter top.

Here is my tin, which has a false bottom and is double bottomed, like a flask so that it protects the bottom of the cake from the heat.

Hubby’s mum gave it to me when we first became married and it had been used for a long time by her, so it must be at least forty years old, maybe fifty or even older than that. As you can see it is a little bit rusty and showing its age, but as the cake is wrapped up in a double layer of greaseproof paper this doesn’t matter.

There are times that I do like very big supermarkets because they have a postal section and I can buy brown paper and string. I can become quite giddy when I see string, its often quite difficult to track down.

The tin all wrapped up for Christmas! I love doing this in November, making your Christmas cake brings the magic of the festivities ever nearer. As you can see it is a double layer of greaseproof around the sides and on the bottom and then a double, double, yes four layers of brown paper on the outside of the tin tied up with string and when the cake mix is in I put a double layer of greaseproof on the top with a small hole cut in the centre, (Delia recommends the size of a 50p) to allow the steam to escape. It may seem like an awful lot of effort but you need this to protect the cake.


The fruit had been soaking in brandy overnight and smelt divine.

and I forgot to take a photograph of the mix, I went onto autopilot and got the cake in the oven, but there are some advantages of working on your own. You don’t have to share the licking out of the bowl.

Four and a quarter hours later on a very low oven, you have…

which has had a couple of tablespoons of brandy and is now resting in a tin ready for the main event next week.

I thought I would make a few shortbread biscuits coated with demerara sugar for those that are not partial to fruit cake. Which is basically a shortbread mixture shaped into a log and then rolled in the demerara to coat the sides and then slices are cut off to bake, they look very pretty.

Wish me luck!

9 thoughts on “Its beginning to smell alot like Christmas!

  1. Mrs R says:

    Good luck Mandy. I know this recipe and return to it time and time again as it is always a success and tastes delicious. Brown paper and string are great for wrapping up a cake tin. Sometimes I still wrap parcels the “old fashioned” way just because I enjoy doing so. Do you remember fixing the string down with sealing wax? (On parcels not cake tins!) Happy memories.

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  2. dozen oaks says:

    Hi, I think this is my first comment on your blog, but I found my way over from 'allotment knitters' on Ravelry. Good luck for impressing the sewing circle!I completely share your love of string. Perhaps it's a combined knitter/gardener thing? It is so difficult to find, good string – and we're obsessed with 'yarn' as it is 🙂

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  3. amelia says:

    I'm sure your sewing circle will love the cake and if they don't…..well, more for you!!My Nan used to say the same thing and I say it a lot now myself!!!

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  4. Carie says:

    Well if they fail to be impressed then they are not worthy of either your baking or your company – I think the cake looks wonderful. And you are not scary to look at at all so don't ever make excuses for people simply being socially inept – it's like suggesting that people should react strangly to me because I'm tall or wear glasses or am pregnant (or all of the above!)

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  5. Angie says:

    Hola Mandy, I am drooling at the thought of your cake! Might there be a bit left over for Saturday… to share with special friends maybe, I have just decided that you are my special friend,… by the way! ha ha haI have the exact same thoughts with a group I go to, I'm a newcomer,not many people chat to me, so I voluntered to do Tea/Coffee duty,,,, they want a drink now… they gotta talk to me!! How could you be scary with that smile of yours!

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  6. snoopydog says:

    Oh wow! I can almost smell the cake from here. I definitely don't rate myself as a great cook, but I have made the Delia recipe several times and it always turns out really good. Hope the sewing group enjoyed your efforts! Ros

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  7. Stasher says:

    If I had to choose a cake which summed you up, it would be this one! The best in its league, worth all the time to bake/get to know, keeps well, full of lovely ingredients/thoughts/qualities. Want to see my string some time…

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