Sugar and Spice and all things nice!

Last month I treated myself to a copy of Good Housekeeping magazine and in it was a new recipe for Christmas Cake.

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The recipe looked lovely and, as its been a good few years since I have made one I decided to give it a go.

To be fair, in the past I have only ever made my Grandma Harriet’s Christmas Cake and this recipe was quite different to that…

… Dried figs, prunes and apricots as well as the usual sultanas and raisins were all soaked for 3 days in orange juice and a nut liqueur before adding to the spiced cake mixture today… it smelled amazing:-

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It might be the last time I use my late Mum’s mixing bowl, however, as I noticed a crack in it. Well it is over 50 years old!

The recipe called for a larger cake tin than I own, so rather than go out and buy another I decided to put any left over mixture in a loaf tin. But there was still some mixture left, so after filling my house with the lovely smell of baking for four hours while the larger cakes cooked I then poured the last of the mix into the loaf tin and cooked that too

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The result was amazing and I now have three cakes to cover with almond paste and icing. The two smaller ones will make nice presents for people I think!!!

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Limoncello mmmmmmmmm..

Well this has been the first time I have made this but it will not be the last – it’s delicious and, as promised, here is the recipe:

6 Large lemons

1 750ml bottle of vodka

2 1/4 cups of water

3 cups sugar

Wash and dry the lemons and with a vegetable peeler, remove the rind only, leaving the pith intact.

Place the lemon peel in a kilner jar with a rubber seal lid.

Add the alcohol making sure the peel is covered.

Store in a cool, dark place shaking the jar once a day to agitate the lemon peel.

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On the 13th day bring the water to boil in a saucepan add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved – allow to cool.

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When the syrup is cool strain the mixture from the jars into the saucepan and stir for about one minute. Transfer back to the jars and store in a cool dark place for 3 weeks, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.

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After three weeks transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles and store them in the freezer. Serve straight from the freezer!

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There are two of my bottles ready for the freezer – ignore the jar behind them that’s a fruit compote – my son is coming for dinner tonight and we are having roast pork – in the absence of apple sauce I thought I would make this to serve with the meat – it is gorgeous……

And so, I might add is the limoncello – I just had to try a small glass – mmmmm enjoy!!!!

Time for tea – cake!!!

My partner and I were reminiscing last night over the cakes of our childhood – all home-made of course. Shop bought cake was not within my parents budget.

Ade had said that when he was a school boy he used to visit a friend’s house and the friend’s Mum taught them both to make a cake where the fruit had been soaked in tea for a couple of hours. He thought it was lovely at the time and earlier this week he had bought a Yorkshire tea cake for £2 which he thoroughly enjoyed too.

I had never cooked a cake with the fruit soaked in tea – brandy or rum yes – but never tea! But I said I would try to find the recipe for him.

This morning my friend Google found the very recipe and so I thought I would try it out just to make sure it worked.

I soaked 500 grams of dried fruit in 400 mls of freshly brewed tea (2 tea bags).

Then I stirred in 200grams muscovado sugar, 1 egg whisked with a little vanilla essence and 250 grams of self raising flour.

Turned it into a loaf tin – be warned this makes a 2lb loaf, my tin is only half the size so i made two! Also the tin should be greased and lined but I like to use non stick foil for these things.

Bake at 175C Gas mark 4 for 1.5 hours or if cooked in two smaller tin 45 minutes each.

What a result!

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They look and smell gorgeous….

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Are perfectly cooked…..

and taste amazing – all that plump fruit – beautiful eaten warm with butter on…

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Gotta go now and put the kettle on – I know what will go down well with this – a nice cup of tea!!!