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Christmas cake -a lovely gift

I love Christmas cake. I love the ritual of making it, I love to give it and I love to eat it. Un-iced, with blue cheese and a glass of port. Iced with real marzipan* and butter brandy icing, with coffee. (our wedding cake was iced this way and it was a big hit at the reception!)

Every year I make a lot of cakes – up to 15 sometimes, but in all sizes from 25cm diameter right down to 10cm. According to the household that will be receiving it of course. And it keeps for ages.

If you are not up for all that soaking fruit for weeks, creaming butter and sugar and general fuss, the new Edmonds Cookbook boiled fruit cake recipe is a very good substitute. I use the most interesting dried fruit I can afford, always with some apricots and ginger chopped into it, and add the grated rind of a lemon for some extra zing. When cooked, let it cool, and douse with some Stones Green Ginger Wine. Noone will ever know you cheated! If you prefer your cake un-iced, it is fun to arrange a decorative ring of almonds on the top.

Small cake tins are available at various kitchen shops, but I find that a well lined souffle dish, a large tin can and even decorative tins work a treat. I have several tins under 15cm in diameter. A single recipe can make three of four.

Today I had a potter in the shop, trying different ways to pretty up cakes for gifting. I made teeny cakes because they are just samples, but the ideas would work just as well on a full sized cake.

red cakeRed hessian** ribbon with a pretty ribbon over the top. We have SO MANY ribbons that would look good over the red hessian, it was hard to choose!

green cakeThis reindeer ribbon is my absolute favourite ever. It comes in several unusual colours from taupe to grey, duck egg blue and soft red. It sets off the natural hessian so well.

purple cake1Purple is not a colour that pops into the mind when we think of Christmas but I love it. This treatment would work with any colour – I am already thinking lime green or pink – a few strands of natural raffia tied around it, and a blingy gold and purple ribbon added to the bow for a bit of sparkle.

silver cakeIt’s not all about hessian though – this one has wide metallic silver mesh ribbon with a gorgeous black and silver Merry Christmas ribbon over the top. The pinecones just set it all off. This cake still has its silver card under. We have these in lots of small sizes for individual cakes, and big ones for family cakes. They only cost a few cents.

Finally, we have clear cellophane by the metre or the roll, so you can enclose your pretty cakes safely for giving!

* We sell Renshaw marzipan, the real thing with ground almonds in it, and it is delicious. Ask for a sample when you come in, we keep some in the fridge for that purpose.

**Hessian is the English word but it is also known as Burlap.

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