We’ve been friends for years and we remain close, despite that fact that she is still single and fabulous and I am married with children, and that colouring my hair is the only (tenuous) thread that remains to connect me to my former glamourous self.
She is a massage therapist, an excellent bartender, and a world traveler. She used to live in the Caribbean, and she is planning an ambitious solo adventure to celebrate her 40th birthday next year.
She also flew in to town to spend the weekend with me not long ago, at a time when I very much needed the support.
So that should tell you everything you need to know about this friend of mine: she is brave, kind, and awesome.
She didn’t even grimace with distaste (which would have been appropriate) when I tried to serve her the spiced rum I bought because I liked its name (Sailor Jerry) and its label (vintage tattoos) but neglected to check its provenance (umm…New Jersey?).
Instead, she whipped up some champagne cocktails to get us through our afternoon.
And Sailor Jerry is destined for this Christmas cake, which I plan to make later today.
Christmas Cake, Version 1
You’ll have to start making this as soon as you finish reading the recipe, pretty much, in order for it to be well-aged in time for Christmas – I will be posting a more procrastinator-friendly version soon. But if you like fruitcake, this is a classic. The recipe comes from the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook, via my mom.
For Fruit Mixture:
(Note that you can vary the amounts here as much as you wish, as long as your total volume comes up roughly equivalent. You should also not hesitate to substitute ingredients you like for the ones you don’t, eg. chopped dried pears for currants, etc.)
250g slivered almonds
1 kg candied cherries
450g chopped mixed peel
1c chopped pitted dates
1/2c spiced rum
2 1/2c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2c lightly packed brown sugar
3/4c apple juice
I would get started on the fruit mixture the night before you are planning to bake your cake. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in a large pyrex mixing bowl, stir well, and cover lightly with plastic wrap.
The next morning, add 1/2c flour to the fruit mixture and stir well. Set aside.
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease, line with parchment, and then grease again an approximately 8″x8″x3″ loaf pan.
Sift together remaining 2c flour, baking soda, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter. Gradually add sugar, then eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.
Combine molasses and apple juice in a glass measuring jug, whisking to mix.
Reduce mixer speed to medium-low, and add sifted dry ingredients alternately with molasses mixture, mixing lightly after each addition, and finishing with the flour mixture.
Fold in fruit mixture, and turn out into prepared pan.
Bake 3 to 3 1/2 hopurs, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from pan and remove parchment. Cool cake completely on a rack.
When cake has cooled, feed with a little rum (2-3 tbsp) then wrap in a layer of parchment, then a layer of foil. Continue to feed the cake with rum every few days, rewrapping well each time. The cake should age a minimum of around 2 weeks, so if you’re motivated, there is still time!