Monday, 18 November 2013

30 Ways to Save £1 -- Day 18 + Christmas Cake Recipe

I've been forgetting to welcome two new followers who've appeared over there on the right in the last few days. Apologies and Welcome. Thank you also to Janice,Pam, Compostwoman and Kev for comments yesterday.

The weather today is just as nasty as yesterday. Him Outside was around at our neighbours most of the day, this time shifting the muck from the bottom of the heap using her mower and tip up trailer, down to her garden.

I was in the kitchen finishing the Christmas cakes. I had put the fruit to soak on Friday and had been stirring every day. The recipe I use is a Mary Berry one but from way, way back, long before she started doing the Bake Off thing. She was freezer expert for a magazine called Family Circle and one year did loads of traditional Christmas recipes. I cut out the pages and have kept them ever since.

This is the recipe

Victorian Christmas Cake

1lb mixed dried fruit including peel, soaked in quarter pint of cold tea, sherry or brandy for 3 days, stir daily.
Add 4oz chopped raisins, 4oz glace cherries, rinsed of gloop, dried and halved, 6oz butter ( softened by beating well), 6oz muscovado sugar, grated rind of one lemon and one orange, 4oz plain flour, 2oz self raising flour, 2oz blanched chopped almonds,1tsp mixed spice.
Stir everything together.
In a jug beat 3 eggs and 1 tbsp black treacle.
Add this to the mix and stir everything until well mixed.

Turn into a greased and double lined 8 inch cake tin. Level top.
Bake in centre of oven at Gas 1, 275F or 120C Fan oven for about 3 and a quarter hours.
Store up to 3 months in a cake tin. ( The cake can be "fed" while in store by making small holes in it and dripping some teaspoons full of brandy into them). Cover the tops of the large cakes with a bit of foil if the start to look a bit too brown

This year because I'm doing some hampers for family I made triple the recipe and it made this lot.

1 Large, 1 medium and 3 mini cakes. This is before they went into the oven.

Some frugal tips for making lots of cakes.
The cheapest fruit is value sultanas so I used more of these and just a few raisins. Always sort through value sultanas for bits of stalk. I soaked the fruit in cold tea, the juice of the oranges and with just 1 tablespoon of brandy. I used less flaked almonds and an extra couple of ounces of flour instead. I bought the cherries and peel very cheaply off AF a couple of months ago.

To make things easier I use parchment strips and circles when lining the tins available from Lakeland as are the mini tins which I bought many years ago when I used to bake for the Country Markets.
The medium cake took 2 and a half hours and the small ones started on the bottom shelf of the oven and took just over an hour and a quarter. ( It would have been less on the middle shelf).
The small cakes will just fit in the two little tins that I found at a car boot sale earlier this year.
The medium one will fit into a tin I picked up at a charity shop - also Christmas themed. I hope the family members who get these for Christmas will enjoy them! In fact I'm loathe to give the tins away as they are so nice!

It seems never a day goes by without doing something with apples. Today I sorted through a whole lot of windfall cooking apples that had been in buckets and a trug out in the shed. With the temperature forecast to drop tomorrow, I've brought them indoors, some will be taken to a friend when we go to visit next week and the others will be given to another friend on Wednesday when she comes around for eggs. There is a limit to how many windfall cooking apples two people can eat before they go rotten!

Day 18 of the 30 Ways to save £1 was
18. Borrow recipe books from the library before buying them and see how many recipes you will actually use. This is a timely hint at this time of year when cookery books are one of the big sellers. How many will be sold on at a car boot sale next year? In my opinion Celebrity Cookery books must be one of the easiest ways to waste £25! .