|Why have a patterned apron when you can have a patterned saucepan?|
The new book, A Home-grown Cook: The Alison Holst Story, doesn't air any dirty laundry (come on, were you really expecting 'The Mother of the Nation' to have any?), but it does feature some of her favourite recipes. I enjoyed talking to her so much that afterwards I decided her famous Golden Christmas Cake was going to replace our usual chocolate and fig extravaganza this year.
Alison Holst's Golden Christmas Cake
In the introduction to this recipe in the book, Dame Alison says this is the favourite cake of her great friend and equally famous New Zealand broadcaster, Sharon Crosbie. She soaks the fruit in chardonnay, but as we'd accidentally drunk the bottle in the fridge I was saving for this purpose, I used green ginger wine and added glace ginger to the fruit mixture. This cake apparently only needs a week to mature, so there's plenty of time to get down to business if you haven't got yours underway yet.
This recipe is reproduced with kind permission.
For a 20cm square or 23cm round or square (2.25kg) cake:
3-4 cups (about 1kg) of crystallised mango, papaya, pineapple and ginger, cut into 5mm cubes
1 cup golden sultanas
1 cup dried cranberries or extra sultanas
1 cup chardonnay (or other white wine)
3/4 cup natural glace cherries
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
Grated rind of 1 orange and lemon
1 1/2 cups high grade flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Put the crystallised fruit, sultanas and cranberries in a large pot. Pour over the wine and simmer, covered, for five minutes until nearly all liquid is absorbed, then leave to stand in the covered pan overnight or for eight hours to soak up remaining liquid. The fruit will have a beautiful jewel- like appearance. Stir in the quartered cherries, if using.
Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (140C fanbake), with the rack just below the middle. Prepare a 20-centimetre square pan, or 23cm round or square pan, lining sides and base with baking paper.
In a food processor or large bowl, beat the soft (but not melted) butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the ground almonds after each one. Beat in the essences, remaining ground almonds and the finely grated citrus rinds, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Combine the cake mixture and the cold, prepared fruit using your hand and spread mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake at 150C for 45 minutes then at 130C for 1 1/2 to two hours. Cover the top with baking paper if it browns too fast. The cake is cooked when a skewer pushed deeply in the centre comes out clean.
When cooled, wrap loosely with baking paper, then refrigerate.
I made ours before we moved house (for which I am now truly, truly grateful) and am planning to decorate it with more glazed crystallised fruit a la Delia in a week or two. I'll show you a picture then!
Have a sweet, sweet weekend everyone. I am hoping to finish unpacking, find where the camera has got to and make something decent to eat... Pin It