Wednesday 16 December 2009

Christmas Cakes and Foodie Friday.

Traditionally Christmas cakes in England are made in early October and fed weekly with brandy maturing nicely until two weeks before the big day when the marzipan & icing go on.
For many years my MIL enjoyed baking a Christmas cake as a special gift for us and, as tradition had it, would always cover the basic fruit cake with a thick layer of marzipan and then royal icing on top of that.
A small christmas tree, children playing, silver balls and all kinds of other cake decorations would cover the surface and a wide red ribbon was fixed in place around it.

DH & I hate marzipan and icing but never wanted to hurt her feelings and I don't think she ever knew, that we would remove every last bit before savouring the rich fruit cake beneath.

Readers of my blog will know that I was enjoying myself at our HHI home away from home in October which means that I was quite late with baking my cake this year.

Delia (Smith) to the rescue.

The December issue of my Woman & Home magazine was delivered early November and included recipes taken from Delia's new book "Delia's Happy Christmas".

Lo & behold! "The Last Minute Brandied Christmas Cake".

Funny thing is at Delia online the recipe is called Last Minute Sherry Mincemeat Cakebut whatever your choice of tipple this is a such an easy recipe to follow and produces an amazing looking cake.
After the festivities are over I'll report back if it tasted as good as it looks.
Thanks Delia.
In the late 1800's Woman & Home magazine was titled Woman at Home, here is their menu for Christmas Day and two more Victorian illustrations from my V&A Christmas List Book.

I'm joining Michael Lee @Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday this week and am so looking forward to seeing all the amazing festive recipes and picking up some new ideas. Her blog already has so many wonderful treats to share, care to join us?


  1. Your fruitcake looks delectable - but I never touch the stuff. My husband loves it though, so I usually make a small one.

    The Victorian menu was interesting - can you imagine what boiled turkey tastes like?

    Enjoy your Christmas preparations!


  2. Back in the day I'll bet those big turkeys were very tough and stringy.
    I always forget to make a fruit cake and kick myself in December. I'll have to go and look at this. I love fruit cake.

  3. I've never made a fruit cake in my life. I think my Dad would eat some but don't know if I could get anyone else to try it. I am going to attempt to bake some cookies next week....we'll see how those come out (can you tell I'm not too good in the kitchen!)
    Enjoy this last stretch into Christmas.

  4. I would love the marzipan and the icing, my hubby would love the fruit cake!! I don't eat anything with dried fruit, so he misses out on mince pies, Christmas puddings etc... unless I decide to be nice to him!! Actually both were in a hamper we were sent so he might be lucky this year.

    Have you had any snow yet, we are expecting some more tonight, yesterdays didn't last very long as it rained?

    Love your new blog header.

    Best wishes, Jackie.

  5. Maggie, the cake looks delicious. I am the ONLY one here who will eat or enjoy fruit cake. On the rare occasion, I go ahead and make something, just for myself. One year I made Tasha Tudor's Dundee Cake, which is quite good.
    Would love to have seen your dear MIL's cake, sounded so pretty. But yours is too!

  6. Maggie, your fruitcake looks delicious! My daughter and I both love fruitcake!! (My husband and son won't touch it. More for me is what I say to that.) My best friend's mother sends her a fruitcake from Canada every Christmas and she shares some of it with me. I have always wanted to learn how to make it myself, but always seem to get bogged down with the differences between English and American cooking terminology and measurements. And then I give up.

  7. Oh yum! Your fruitcake looks divine, and Bill said to tell you to, "Send us a piece!" Well, think of us when you eat some, anyway! Still, we will have streusel topped apple pie and mincemeat pie, and pumpkin we won't starve.
    Merry Eating, Merry Christmas!

  8. How fun to see you in your divine kitchen Maggie! I don't care for mother made a version called 'Civil War Cake' that was supposedly using what you had after the North came thru and pillaged everything else....

    Anyway, I wasn't too crazy about it, but then again, there was no brandy in it *wink*

    Merry Holidays!

  9. Hope Roger has caught the Hare ready for the soup !!!

    We like Christmas Cake with marzipan and icing (though we are using the soft ready rolled icing this year) and in true Brit style made the cake weeks ago and have been feeding it ever since....

    For Gayle: I have an American friend with similar measuring problems and my Christmas present to her was:

    which is handily marked with US and UK cup sizes !

  10. Your the bomb 'sweet lady'! That's makin' this farm chick drool all over creation and I don't even like fruit cake. Now, if ya'll added some chocolate.......

    You have yourself a wonderfully blessed weekend!!!

  11. What a gorgeous cake! I love the nuts on top.

    When we go to Ireland for Christmas there's always Christmas cake there too--with marzipan and fondant. I'm with you, though, I try not to eat the marzipan!

    This looks amazing. Thanks for posting it!

  12. The cake looks absolutely delicious. I love Delia! Her recipes always work!

  13. If you want to smile and feel good to your toes, Normandy Life is the place to start. A feast for the soul and the senses, sunlight and joy for the heart, this is a delightful, heartwarming post. I can't say enough good things about your fruitcakes and menu.
    Sweet wishes,

  14. Maggie, fun to see you in the kitchen. The cake looks like it is time intensive. Enjoy!
    Christmat hugs ~ Sarah

  15. Wow, that looks good! What a neat tradition...never heard of feeding a cake. :-)


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