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Who would have thought just making a cake from a packet could invoke such Christmas memories – nudging my sister from in front of the open fire, clambering through the wooded bit in the parents garden for holly and ivy, burning the roof of the mouth from a ‘just out of the oven’ mince pie, watching a purple paper crown slip further down the forehead of a nodding grandfather dozing, post Christmas lunch, the crackle of discarded wrapping paper being thrown on the fire… and all I did was snip of the corner from the packet of ‘fruit mix with brandy’…

I’m making a Christmas Cake. Never attempted one before mainly due to all the separate ingredients you have to lay in first. But Waitrose sent me a box of their Christmas Cake ingredients so that excuse went by the window. I did have to invest in the specified cake tin, the instructions specify a 20” loose bottomed round cake tin and of course I only had a 22”! No great expense to be fair… you see size IS everything.

In addition to the pouch of headily-scented fruit the pack also contains brown sugar, flour, spices, chopped almonds, marzipan and one of those little hotel breakfast pots containing apricot jam. Oh and icing.

To this you need to add 170g unsalted butter, 3 medium eggs, 1 orange and some cake decorations. (Sorry Waitrose, but for the latter I headed to the Cake Craft Shop for a pack of edible holly).

Oven to 140C/120C for a fan. Now my creaking old oven doesn’t seem to be terribly accurate heat wise and the suggested 2 ½ – 3 hour cooking time was far too long. Thank goodness for the skewer test else my mixed effort would have been ruined!

The pack gives all the instructions required but basically its fluff, mix and fold. There does seem to be a very generous amount of fruit I have to say. I did wonder if I should add some glace cherries while stirring all together; but no a few (and frankly just a token on the glace front is enough for me) emerged during the mixing.

I made mine over a week ago now. Once cold I spiked it with a little extra brandy I had kicking around the kitchen and then wrapped it firmly. I haven’t dared open it since but am about to go check and see if it ‘needs’ just a sprinkling more of brandy!

The decorations should be arriving in the next couple of days. I’ve already envisaged what I want the cake to look like but fear my ‘decorating skills’ may be a touch lacking.

The Waitrose Christmas Cake Kit costs £10 from Waitrose although I note that Ocado has it at just £7.50!

Photos taken on the new Nokia 1020 camera phone. Will update once ‘decorated’ as long as you promise not to laugh…

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