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Christmas Cake 2019

I know it’s a little late, well let’s face it, it’s very late, to be posting about Christmas cake on Christmas Eve! But I really wanted to show some lovely photos of the cake I made for John, and his charming decorations with a definite Australian touch!

Readers of this blog will have seen a few posts in the past of the recipe for the Christmas cake. It’s a family recipe, handed down through the generations. It’s a dark fruit cake, full of dried fruit and glacé fruit and spices. The full recipe is big: 12 eggs, half a kilo of butter and of sugar, one and half kilos of dried fruit and a kilo of glacé fruit! As well as flour, spices, essences and alcohol etc.

This year I made the big mixture. I was able to bake 2 large cakes from this, and even managed a baby one with some leftover mixture.

One of the big cakes went to John, long time friend and a connoisseur of good food. I ice my cakes with a covering of home made marzipan, then top with royal icing. The cakes are a blank canvas on which you can create whatever decoration you fancy. John had a few ideas, but the lead photos are my favourites, as they feature a beautiful banksia cone as decoration. Banksias are an interesting Australian species, and the startling looking cones were the inspiration for Mae Gibbs’ Big Bad Banksia Men from her wonderful “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”.

So here is the link to the Christmas cake recipe. This post has the recipes for the big cake, and what I call the medium cake, that is, a cake that is made with half of the ingredients of the mother cake.

And the photos are of John’s cake – well done, your decorations look great!


Nigella’s Italian Christmas Pudding Cake




This is a fabulous cake I made as part of the recent Christmas and New Year festivities. It’s a relatively simple cake to make, as there’s no baking required rather an assembly of different luscious elements.

It’s a kind of “tiramisu meets trifle”! Layers of liqueur soaked panettone are interspersed with a mascarpone/ cream/egg/sugar/liqueur mixture with glacé fruit, chocolate and pistachios added.

I made a couple of alterations to the original recipe. I soaked the panettone in Cointreau as the specified Tuaca liqueur is hard to obtain.  As I was unable to source marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), I used glacé ginger instead.

The other recipe alteration was entirely accidental – the recipe asks for Marsala to flavour the mascarpone mixture. I inadvertently grabbed a bottle of coffee liqueur and used this instead. A happy accident as it turned out as the cake now had a real tiramisu flavour!

The link to Nigella’s recipe is here for the original version.

A couple of points. I think finely chopped chocolate is preferable to chocolate chips as these are a little too crunchy in the cake. The other thing to take note of, is not to overbeat the mixture when you add the mascarpone as mascarpone can easily curdle as I found out to my cost!

Here is the recipe as I made it.


625 grams panettone (approximately)
6 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone cheese
250 mls cream
125 mls coffee liqueur
75 gms glacé ginger
125 gms chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
100 gms pistachios chopped
Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate


Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of  the orange liqueur over the panettone.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the coffee liqueur and whisk until the mixture is thick and spreadable. If you stop every so often you can gauge how thick the mixture is and whether you are in danger of overbeating.

Remove 250ml or a cup of the mixture to a bowl, cover and put in the fridge, for the top layer of the cake.

Chop the glacé ginger into small pieces and then add to the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture.  Then add 100gms of the chocolate chips and 75gms of the chopped pistachios, and fold both into the mixture.

Spoon half of the mixture on top of the panettone layer in the cake tin. Put another third of the panettone slices over the cream filling, again making sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon the other half of the cream mixture onto to the panettone. Top with the final layer of panettone, leaving no gaps and sprinkle over the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover the cake tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge for at least overnight.

To serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould it and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Definitely don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the cake is too soft and moist to remove.

Scatter the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and the pomegranate seeds. The cake will look a little rustic around the sides but this is part of its charm!


Ruth’s Plum Pudding




Why, you may ask, am I writing a post about plum pudding in March?  Plum pudding or Christmas pudding, is of course eaten at Christmas. This lovely pudding was made by Ruth S, and indeed was eaten by this quirky writer on Christmas day. I have just been given the recipe, very kindly, by Ruth, and couldn’t wait another month, let alone nine, before sharing it!

And anyway, who says that you can’t make this pudding at other times in the year? For us in the southern hemisphere, Christmas in July is big, when we can enjoy lovely hot wintery fare when the season is right. And if you are super organized, you could always start your 2016 Christmas baking now!

Ruth makes these lovely plum puddings every year, supported by St Alban’s Church Epping, where over 400 puddings are made and the proceeds from the sale are given to three charities, over $4500 to each. It’s a great initiative for charity, and the lucky recipients of the puddings have something really yummy on Christmas Day.

Why the name “plum pudding,” as the pudding appears to contain no actual plums? The pudding, however, does contain a lot of prunes, which are of course, plums.

Here is Ruth’s recipe as given to me.  Her mother first made it in 1973 and the original recipe is attributed to the Dried Fruits Board of NSW. She has some very useful tips for both experienced and inexperienced pudding makers.


250g/8oz butter

250g/8oz sugar

350g/12oz small or chopped raisins

350g/12oz sultanas

250g/8oz currants

175g/6oz chopped prunes

175g/6oz mixed peel

85g/3oz almond pieces/slivers

½ tsp  nutmeg

½ tsp mixed spice

125g/4oz plain flour

125g/4oz soft breadcrumbs

½ cup Stout or orange juice

½ cup  brandy

140mls/1/4 pint milk

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 large carrot grated


Cream butter and sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Add flour and spices. Add fruit, carrot, breadcrumbs and liquids together and stir well. I use a gloved hand rather than a spoon to make sure it is well mixed.

I now use the metric version but give the British version too!

If breadcrumbs are hard to grate, and you have a food processor, just put chunks of bread into the processor. It goes well put into the liquids and whizzed although it looks terrible!

Mixture does not look well homogenised and is quite wet. That’s fine!

It makes one huge pudding that you steam for 6 hours or two small ones that take 3 hours.

When I make the 800g ones, this mixture makes two 800g ones plus one of about 450-480g.

I generally cook small quantities such as this in the microwave oven. Place basin in oven loosely covered with lid or plastic wrap. Cook 800g pudding on second level of power – never the full power – for 8 minutes. If cooking whole quantity in one huge basin, cook at say, third power level for 20 minutes, but do it for a bit longer if it does not look quite cooked.


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