"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Monday, 24 December 2012

Mummy's Special Christmas Cake

I would like to wish my eldest sister a very Happy Birthday today! Without you sis, this life would not be the same! Thank you for being such a wonderful big sis! I love you and can't wait to see you home soon (just a few more days...yaay)!

This is one cake that featured in all our Christmas-es to date. The last two years have been different as I was the one baking as per Mum's instructions over the phone. Simple to make and  has one pre-baking task, which is soaking the nuts and raisins . The earlier you do it the better.

This year I did not use only the cashew nuts and included raisins and soaked them way in advance in October. So there is a slight difference but the rest is just the same.

Christmas 2012

I have not eaten a whole slice as we are on pre-Christmas lent. So I cannot tell you how it tastes but textural there is a very slight difference from Christmas cake 2011 and 2012.

Mum used to make this cake for our family and relatives and this cake has been tasted and feasted by many as she used to pack them up and send it to us when we were studying away from home.

This year I have staged the Christmas meals (unlike last year...whew!) since the last few days however I still have a lot to do before I am done with final touches, as I am sure you do to, so I will get right to it.

You need:

  • 500 gms of cashew nuts
  • 250 gms of raisins (optional - mum used to soak cashews only)
  • 700 ml of brandy or rum (* instead of alcohol)
  • Zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg 
  • 1 kg flour
  • 1 kg castor sugar or powdered sugar
  • 500 gms of butter, room temperature
  • 12-14 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of extra flour**
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of sugar (burnt sugar process. Please check Ginger Wine)

The make:

Preparation time: 1-2 months for soaking the nuts, 1 hour pre-baking time | Baking Time: 2 hrs, 10 minutes

1. Soaking the nuts: This is normally done at least a month in advance. Soak the whole cashews 1-2 months in advance with brandy or rum in a tightly sealed jar.Remember the level of the alcohol dips as the cashew nuts absorbs the alcohol and increases in size. So top up by add the alcohol in stages. I added first 175ml, followed by another 175ml and them 350 ml. *Tip:If you do not want to use alcohol, you can also just soak the nuts a few days in advance in cranberry or grape juice and store in a cool, dry place.You can add the raisins if using during the mixing process or after chopping cashew nuts. Chop the cashew nuts, add the raisins to it and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 250C. Grease the cake tray(s) with butter on all sides. If your cake trays are a little old, then I would suggest using a foil and then greasing the foil before lining the cake tray. I did that with one of my cake trays that had a few scratches or you can just use butter paper. Now I cannot tell you how many cake trays each of you would need. However what I can tell you is that it would fit approximately two 9" * 10" * 2" cake trays.

Ready to go into the oven
3. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar and fold in with a spoon. Allow it to stand for at least 20 minutes.
4. Whisk the eggs in a large deep-bottomed bowl until fluffy. Add the butter and blend well.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture one ladle at a time to the egg-butter mixture until cake consistency is achieved. Add the nutmeg and/or the optional orange zest. I have never used this so far as Mum does not include the orange zest.
6. Next add the chopped cashews and raisins with the residual alcohol. Now with the ladle just mix in the the cashews and raisins. No need to beat the mixture at this stage. Add the burnt sugar. If the mixture seems to be slightly watery its either that you have not mixed the nuts, raisins and alcohol enough or that the mixture has thinned due to the alcohol quantity, in which case dust the top of the mixing bowl with the extra flour** and mix again with a spoon (although this is not advisable so try not to add all of the residual alcohol if over a few tablespoons).
7.  Allow the mixture to stand for another 20 minutes before pouring into the cake tray(s). Pour the mixture halfway of  the cake tray leaving room for the cake to rise.
8. Lower the oven heat to 170C and slowly place the cake tray. The first cake tray may take a tad longer than the subsequent ones by 10 minutes. Check in 30 minutes, if the cake has risen to a full. Then open the oven and using a fork or skewer, check if the cake has cooked. If cooked, the fork would come clean. The first cake tray may take between 40-45 depending on the size of the cake tray. Repeat until all of the batter is used.

This cake will go well with the Ginger wine recipe I posted recently. Enjoy!

I assure you this cake is one to be served during Christmas week and I sincerely apologise for the delay in posting this recipe. Hope you try it anyways or next year is always there. Over the next few weeks I will be away but will find time to post you more treats of the Christmas week that you can try over the New Year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013 from our family to yours.


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