Mary Elizabeth Ryan is my Dad's Mum, this is her recipe. She gave it to my Mum when she was an inexperienced newly-wed (she also told my Mum that my Dad was used to having his undies ironed! it was years before my poor Mum learnt that this was a fib!) Please don't let her little nasty streak stop you from trying this cake though. It is absolutely delicious. Very moist and easy. Your whole house will smell like Christmas while it's baking. That's a promise.
Here she is with my Pop at my Mum and Dad's wedding reception in 1961
Nana Ryan's Christmas cake has been part of my Christmasses since I was a baby, but this year is the first time I've made my own. I was strangely a little bit nervous about the end result (I didn't want to let the team down) but to my relief (and delight!) it turned out perfectly. This may have had something to do with the fact that I baked it in the very same Eve Ware cake tin my Nan used (and my Mum after her) Incredibly this tin has been used by women in my family for more than one hundered years! Pretty special eh?
My first Christmas - I was 3 months old
(Father Christmas looks like he was made for the job!
I don't look to keen on him either!)
Anyway, although Lucy Violet has never been a cooking blog I really wanted to share Nana Ryan's recipe with you just in case you'd like to try it...
This post is also a tribute to Nana and to my lovely, lovely Dad who died when he was only forty six. I thought of him alot while I was cooking it. He was a great Dad and I miss him.
Here's what you need:
p.s. feel free to scroll down if you're not interested.
p.p.s I'm sure my Mum has tweeked this over the years...
1kg dried mixed fruit
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup of brandy or whiskey
I used brandy in memory of a brief but full-on flirtation with Brandy Alexanders when I was younger.
Please note, you will, and should use waaaay more alcohol than this. Half-a-cup is merely your starting point!)
1 green apple, peeled and grated
50g slithered almonds
1/2 cup glace cherries
250g unsalted softened butter
1t of finely grated orange rind
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1t baking soda
1/2t ground nutmeg
1/4 cup of extra brandy or whiskey
but remember my earlier note on this!
Extra glace cherries and blanched almonds to decorate the top of your cake if you want to
And here's what you need to do:
1. Place dried fruit in a non-metal bowl. Douse liberally
with brandy. Stir and cover tightly with cling film.
Stand for several days, each day add a good glug of
brandy, stir and cover tightly again.
I do this for a week, I think you should too.
2. A week has passed. Stir in grated apple and slithered
3. Beat butter, orange rind and sugar until thick and
creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until just
4. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and
spices. Fold into creamed butter mixture alternatively
with your lovely brandy soaked fruit, until well
My Mum's tip is to use clean hands for this, but I
managed with a spatula.
5. Spoon into a deep 22cm cake tin which has been lined
with three sheets of baking paper. Base and sides. This
is very important. The baking paper should sit 3cm
above the rim of the cake tin.
6. Make the top of your cake pretty with blanched almonds
and glace cherries, this is what I did...
7. Cover the top of your cake with a piece of baking
paper, it won't actually touch the cake, it should
sit on top of the paper you have lined the sides of the
Bake in a preheated 140 degrees celcius oven for 3 -
3 1/2 hours. Check with a skewer. It should come out
as clean as a whistle.
Breathe in those delicious smells that are about to
fill your kitchen.
My Mum never cooks hers for longer than 3 hours and I
found mine was ready then too. I suppose it depends
on your oven...
And here it is, just out of the oven
8. Remove cake from oven. Sprinkle with brandy while
it's hot and wrap tightly in a clean tea towel.
Leave in tin to cool.
When cake has cooled down, remove it from tin but don't
remove baking paper, especially from base - this helps
to keep it moist (and a moist Christmas cake is a
must!) Wrap in foil and store in an airtight container.
From now until Christmas, feel free to "paint" your
cake with brandy or just dribble it on top like me...
it will get better and better as time goes by (and as
brandy gets added!)
Serve in small slices, it's very rich
Hope this post wasn't too boring...
let me know if you give it a go x