Christmas has been and gone and we are missing it like crazy. We put away the tree yesterday and with every ornament removed, the melancholy grew a little. Not that we don't all have new things to celebrate just around the corner. Like say, New Years Eve on Wednesday and a good stretch of summer holidays ahead.
In any case, this year 30 of us gathered at Mum and Dad’s place near Rydal and it really was one of the best Christmases I can remember. Lots of kids, lots of family, a fair bit of chaos and loads of fun. The kids and I put on a little play and because the weather was so cool, we took over Mum’s woolshed studio and set up one long table there.
For Christmas eve dinner, we started with our traditional if not unusual entree of risengrod (rice pudding) in which Mum hides an almond in one bowl and whoever finds it in theirs and manages to conceal the fact during the meal receives a present, then Tim barbecued our proscuitto-wrapped venison which we served with freshly made jelly (using red currants picked from the garden), cheesy wet polenta and this salad of peaches, red currants and watercress. For pudding we had meringues with apricot sauce and berries. It was all pretty simple food but really tasty, seasonal and generous.
Easy summer fruit cakeThis is one of the easiest cake recipes ever. I made it for afternoon tea on Christmas Eve to sustain the set up crew in the woolshed while we set the table, strung fairy lights and hung curtains for the Christmas play.
Basically a melt and mix job, you can have this cake in the oven within 15 minutes of deciding to make it and better yet, it’s the perfect vehicle for the beautiful summer fruit all around us at the moment. This time I used redcurrants and apricots (which were, together, just a touch too tangy for the kids but not so the rest of us), but it would be just as good with any sliced stone fruit, berries or even, further down the track poached pomme fruit (apples, pears, quinces).
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
60g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
4 apricots, halved and quartered
1 handful red currants
4 tbsp caster sugar and 1/2 tsp mixed spice
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin or 20cm springform cake tin. Mix the buttermilk, egg, sugar, flour, cooled melted butter, vanilla and lemon rind together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Spoon mixture into the prepared loaf or cake tin and smooth over the top. Arrange fruit to your liking then combine the caster sugar and mixed spice and dust this over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the top firm. Let cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve with thick natural yogurt or some ice cream.