Sometimes I bake.
This time of year I find it really interesting to watch all of the different types of food and traditions to go with them. Thanksgiving isn’t something we celebrate here in Australia, but I find it a holiday that is intriguing; given the emphasis on food and family, rather than the gift giving that comes with Christmas. Watching the Thanksgiving feasts being prepared on Instagram and in my Facebook feed, there seems to be a lot of feeling in the dishes that were being prepared. From the turkey to the pies (I have never had a pumpkin pie), watching the family meals being prepared with love and care.
As we head into Christmas, I am starting to work on my own family traditions, and I have been looking at how they have changed over the years, and how they haven’t. When I was a child, we would have lunch with one grandmother and dinner with the other – the dinner being a barbecue and lunch being more of a “traditional” affair.
The Christmas Cake was always an extravaganza. One grandmother would make hers in September, for the following year’s Christmas. The other seemed to always have fruit cake about, it was a staple all year round.
I know the recipes for both of them, they have passed them down to me grandmother to granddaughter; but they never really taste the same to me.
So here is mine:
Earl Grey Tea Cake
- 4 Earl Grey Tea bags
- 400g dried fruit (I used a mixture of sultanas and cranberries)
- 1 orange
- 1 egg
- 200g caster sugar
- 400g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spice (I used kind of half cinnamon and kind of half nutmeg)
- Make the tea in 300ml of boiling water and all 4 tea bags (if the water is a bit over it is okay), leave it for about 5 (or when you remember) and take the tea bags out.
- Put the dried fruit into a large bowl, grate the zest of the orange into it and pour the tea into it. Cover with cling film and let it sit there for overnight if possible, a few hours at least, or again when you remember it is there (don’t ask how long it was there for). But the tea will be soaked up into the fruit and it will be all puffy.
- When it is time to make the loaf, preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas4, and grease a loaf tin.
- Beat the eggs and add the fruit. Add all the other things you have there and squeeze in the juice from the orange (but don’t panic if you forget)… and mix it all together.
- Bake it for about 1 hour and 10 mins – until cooked through – the skewer should come out clean when you stab the cake.