As part of my participation (though tardy) to The Canadian Food Experience Project Challenge Seven: A Christmas Tradition the following is my story.
I have bought Victoria Magazine since April 1989. I was working in Westmount at the time and, during my lunch hour, I took a walk on Sherbrooke Street West and ended up in Cumberland’s Drug Store (now a PJC). Whilst browsing the magasine aisle, my eye was drawn to Victoria and I had to look inside. Oh, the beautiful photos, the recipes, the quotes: “Oh, to be in England Now that April’s here…”, Robert Browning. – I was totally hooked!
So beautiful and so worth the three bucks! (It’s now $6.99). It was a bi-monthly magazine at the time. Oh! To have to wait a whole two months for the next one!!! I couldn’t stand it! It then became available monthly. Yea!!! It then changed ownership and they made it look just like another Martha Stewart-type of magazine (not that I don’t enjoy Martha, I just didn’t want Victoria to look like it). That did them in and they disappeared for a few years and then… Hark! An obvious fan of the original re-started it just like it was – bi-monthly (but I’ve faith….) Happy Days!
The December 1991 issue had a recipe for a “Quick Fruit Cake”. Hmm… I was sceptical but it looked really nice and the ingredients did not contain any of that yucky fluorescent cherry crap so I decided to try it. It just so happened that my father’s new girlfriend was introduced to us on Christmas Eve. Poor thing, she was overwhelmed by Larry’s tall, exuberant daughters! Hmmm… let me taste that fruit cake. She must have eaten about half the plate!
Well, since then, it has now become an expected yearly Christmas offering. And, I always ensure Susan gets at least half a cake to her (she is a tiny thing!)
This year is the first Christmas without Dad and Susan was definitely invited to our early Christmas dinner on Sunday. Of course I had to make sure I had some to give her! The smile was worth what little effort was required.
The ingredients are easily found and making it is a piece of cake (sorry, couldn’t help myself!)
What you will need:
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut up
3/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp molasses
1 cup currants
34 cup pitted dates, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped mixed candied peel
1 cup walnut pieces
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp brandy
1 7-oz roll almond paste (marzipan)
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish
1. Butter 8″ baking dish, line bottom and sides with double layer of waxed paper. Butter waxed paper. Preheat oven to 300 F
2. In heavy large saucepan, combine first 10 ingredients. Heat slowly until butter melts, stirring occasionally
3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cool 10 minutes.
4. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add cooled fruit mixture and eggs. Mix with wooden spoon until blended. Pour into pan.
5. Bake at 300 F for 1 1/2 hours until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.
6. Cool in pan sent on rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on rack. Cut a thin slice from top of cake to make cake even. Prick top of cake all over with skewer, then spoon brandy over cake.
To make marzipan topping:
1. On surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, roll out marzipan to 8″ square. Invert cake on serving plate. Brush uncut top surface with apricot jam (or honey), then press on marzipan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar
(Here’s where I differ. I prefer to spoon jam onto cut side which leaves the bottom nice and smooth.
2. If desired, heat 2 or 3 metal skewers until red hot. Press into marzipan to make a caramelised lattice pattern. Repeat until pattern is complete.
You can watch the how to right here!