Christmas is coming…

My poor neglected gardening blog, almost as neglected as the garden itself which is in need of a good tidy.  It really only requires a single day of hard work but I’ve been so busy sewing, trying to get my Winter stock listed over at The Linen Cat (and blogging about it all) that the garden (and let’s be honest, the house) has been rather abandoned.  We did make time to decorate the house for Halloween though, using some of the home-grown squash.

And the boys have been enjoying all the dressing up and more recently, fire works.

We’ve just had a lovely relaxing Sunday with a nice family lunch, followed by a walk and then in the late afternoon I started both the Christmas cake and puddings (at the boys requests, I’m not sure they realised it’ll be some weeks before we get to eat them, bless!).

After last year’s success, I have opted for Delia’s Traditional Christmas Cake recipe again, of the many versions I’ve tried it’s by far the best.  I do struggle with cooking times with Nigella and I’ve also tried some more traditional ‘plum’ cakes but they were very moist and didn’t keep as well.  Finally, I love that Delia has a list of  ingredients on her site for different size cake tins, makes life so much easier.

As for the pudding, I am of course making my Gran’s version, lets face it, it is the BEST Christmas pudding ever (shhh, don’t tell my Nana).  This year I am tweaking the recipe a little more and I am using stout instead of the milk, I’m also adding this liquid (along with the egg and treacle) at stage 1, along with the fruit etc to steep overnight, just to see if it ends up any different.  I’m cross with myself for forgetting to buy some silver charms to pop in the mix, I’d intended to pick some up in the sales last year but forgot.  Oh well, at least I don’t have to worry about the boys choking on charms!

I really enjoy making Christmas cakes and puddings so I normally bake them separately to stretch the pleasure out, this is the first year I’ve done them together and it made life super easy as I blitzed  the peel, cherries and almonds for both mixes instead of hand cutting them and then took the spare time to pick any stray stalks out of the dried fruit.

It’s a bit of a fiddle, but quite relaxing (especially as I enjoyed a sherry at the same time….hang on…I must be getting old!).  My Gran used to sit doing this for days with all the fruit laid out on trays, she was a great baker and I wish I could say the same but baking doesn’t come all that naturally to me, although I do ‘get by’.

And so, after an overnight steep and some Blue Peter style antics with baking parchment and brown paper both cake and pudding are merrily baking and filling the house with a very heavenly scent.  It’s got me in the mood and I feel quite excited about the Festive Season, bring it on, we’ll be more than ready 🙂