Recipes. As promised.
We have bowls of fruit soaking in brandy hidden in high cupboards to keep it away from predators, four legged and two legged...
Christmas Cake In a Saucepan! (Sorry, just in English. I can't do the converting to cups for all of this!)
175g unsalted butter , chopped into cubes.
200g dark muscovado sugar
750g mixed dried fruits (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries and yummy stuff)
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
100ml/3½ fl oz brandy plus 4tbsp more
3 large eggs , lightly beaten
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
You need an 20cm (8″) round cake tin (loose-bottomed and deep).
Personally I soak the mixed fruit in the brandy at least overnight. You don't have to. Or you could use juice to soak it in.
Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line the cake tin. Stir the eggs and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly – use the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.
Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it’s cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.
For something easier and more fun, here's a link to choccy swirls In American. In English. (So much easier than writing it all out!). We doubled the amounts, because...well, because you can't have enough chocolate shortbread. And there already isn't much left, after only a day... Mycroft loves the new kitchen. The dogs have thoroughly explored it and hoovered up crumbs and dropped chocolate chunks and licked sticky hands clean...
Anyway, now to try to persuade Sherlock to go to bed. He's been up since...oh, God, I don't even want to think about it. Early. That's when we made shortbread. I fell asleep on the sofa after lunch. And somehow Sherlock managed to make me promise to do eggy bread with Panettone and fruit at some point...
Tomorrow we start the pond...God help us.