Friday, 2 December 2011

Stir up... Friday!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet? No? Neither am I. But I have a plan! Since I was a little girl, my darling mother has made Christmas cake and pudding for us every year. I have fond memories of watching her weigh out her tried-and-tested mixture of dried fruits before grating in the zest of oranges and lemons and finishing with a generous measure of brandy. The smell of brandy still reminds me of the first rich mouthful of iced cake which I would squeeze in on top of the other sumptuous Christmas fare.

Stir up Sunday may have just passed but it's not too late to start soaking your fruit for your Christmas cake. It's a great way to get into the spirit of things, probably because all the alcohol fumes are enough to make anyone feel at least a little bit merry. You can ease yourself into what can be a marathon cooking season.

First, find a suitable vessel - a large sweet jar with a lid is ideal but a large bowl with a saucepan lid or plate over the top works too. Then pick your fruit; go for whatever you'd like and appeals to you. For a standard size cake and pudding, you'll need around 1.5kg of fruit. I adore dried and glacé cherries so I will be throwing a few of those in along with some plump juicy raisins, some snipped up dried dates, figs and peel. Pop them into your jar or bowl and fetch your chosen tipple. Generally, its sherry or brandy but again, there aren't any rules here and if there are, they are made to be broken. You don't have to go for something alcoholic as tea or fruit juice taste delish too. No matter what you choose, my tip would be to have one of whatever you're giving the fruit yourself - for research purposes, of course. My Mum always added the zest and juice of an orange or two as well. Pour over enough to cover the fruit and you're done! Simply stir the mixture every few days and keep in a cool dark place like your larder cupboard or fridge.

Happy Friday!

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