I realised with a massive shock this morning that there are only 65 days until Christmas!!!! I am a real sucker for this lovely Holiday and get completely sucked in by the twinkle lights, strands of tinsel, jingle bells and classic Christmas songs. As you can imagine, I also go absolutely crazy in my kitchen and always make hampers filled with all sorts of lovely home-made goodies to give to friends and work colleagues as presents. I bake oven loads of spiced cookies, make trays full of chocolate truffles and caramel candies, bottles full of dried fruit chutneys and then there's Christmas Lunch of course. I get all excited just thinking about it!!!
Amazingly enough, my Christmas baking already starts in October, with a traditional fruit cake. You have to bake it well in advance as it has to be matured to make it extra special and ever so delicious come Christmas. Having left it ever so slightly late this year and therefore having no time to spare, I got my chopped dates, sultanas, raisins and apricots soaking in brandy last night, ready to bake my cake this morning. It is a wonderfully luxurious cake, filled to the brim with dried fruits, nuts and glazed cherries and made intensely dark and rich with molasses and sticky brown sugar and then slowly fed with a bottle brandy over the next 9 weeks.
My cake is now snugly wrapped up in thick layers of parchment paper, mellowing out in a dark cupboard and waiting for it's next brushing of brandy. When our tree is up and decorated, my house is filled with the smells of cinnamon and mixed spice and Frank Sinatra is singing Let It Snow on our radio, I will cover the cake with golden marzipan, royal icing and let it sit proud in the middle of the Festive table. I can hardly wait :)