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Jamaican Christmas cake or pudding is an absolute must for Christmas. Whether you buy it or make it, it’s important to have some at home to offer visitors during the yuletide season with a glass of sorrel. Of course you also have to have for the family as well. I must say that there is an art to baking which unfortunately not all of us are blessed with. Ok, I confess, I don’t have the gift, so I sat with a friend whose cakes and puddings are to die for and she shared with me how to make Christmas cakes and puddings. ‘Since all a wi brok this Christmas and caant buy any I’ll share my new found knowledge’.
She calls it the pound mixture, just remember a pound or ‘there about’ of most of the ingredients.
1 pound butter (you can use ½ pound of margarine and ½ best butter [we say anchor butter])
1 pound brown sugar (you can use granulated sugar however the brown sugar helps to
give the colour. You use less browning with the brown sugar)
½ cup honey
1 1/4 pound all purpose flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 nutmeg grated
Browning (Mix in a little at a time until you get the colour you like)
4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. of almond flavouring (If desired. Some persons don’t like the taste)
1 pound raisins
1 pound currants (currants are much more expensive than raisins. So it’s up to you)
1 pound prunes
Mixture of rum and wine (port wine or red label wine is fine)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (not peanuts) optional
Mixed fruits (mixed peel, citron, cherries, dates) optional
(Remember this is your cake or pudding. Add only the flavours that you and your family like)
The fruits are a major part of your Christmas cake or pudding. Soaking them in wine and rum for a period of time is great. The longer they soak the mellower they become. However this is not entirely necessary. Once they have been washed thoroughly, pitted where necessary and cut up fine you can steam them or blend them. Either way your cake or pudding will taste fine. Just remember 1 part rum to 2 parts wine. Also keep in mind your consumers, if you have children you will want to go easy on the rum. Do not soak the dates, cherries, mixed peel or the nuts only the raisins, currents and pitted prunes.
For the Christmas cake or pudding first, cream the butter and sugar. Mix in honey, browning, vanilla and almond flavouring. Add eggs and beat in well. Add soaked fruit, cherries, dates and nuts. In another bowl, sieve together flour, baking powder and mixed spices (all the dry stuff). Add mixtures alternately and mix well. Taste to see if it’s as you like it, adding spices, or wine, or browning accordingly. Your mixture is the right consistency when you stand a wooden spoon in the mixture and it slowly falls to the side. If it falls quickly you need more flour.
This should give 6 pounds of cake or pudding. It’s important to grease your baking tins and it’s also good to line with grease proof paper for best results. Do not pour the batter all the way up to the very top of the pan; fill the pan 3/4 of the way. Christmas cakes and puddings also make very nice gifts. If you are using the nice foil tins which can easily be dressed up after then you definitely will want to line these as they are much thinner than a baking tin.
For puddings you may steam in the oven by setting baking tin in water or placing a small tin of water along with your pudding in the oven. This creates steam which helps to keep the pudding moist. Puddings can also be cooked in the pressure cooker. For the Christmas cake bake at 300 F. until a skewer comes out of the center of the cake clean, about 1 hour. Mix rum and wine together and throw on the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Christmas cakes and puddings can be made up to 4 weeks before serving as they actually improve with age. If you’re keeping them for any period of time, don’t forget to add the rum and wine mixture from time to time to keep it moist.
OK, troopers, lets go get Christmas started. I’m also getting the DIY on the sorrel drink, pimento dram (that’s a liqueur we serve at Christmas time) and egg nog. So stay tuned.