Saturday, 30 November 2013

Eggless Christmas Cake

A couple of weeks ago my dad and I had great fun making our own Christmas cake, which due to an intolerance to eggs running in the family, we have made egg-free.  We used a recipe from the 1947 Aunt Daisy's New Cookery No.6, a cookbook that had belonged to my maternal grandmother, who was a friend of "Aunt Daisy", otherwise known as Maud Basham.  "Aunt Daisy" was a regular on the radio in New Zealand between the 1920s and 1960s and apparently would rattle out recipes at a tremendous rate.  It was lovely to make a cake with so many family associations and if the taste of the batter was anything to go by it should be delicious.


We made various changes to the recipe, including halving the quantities, since we have no real need of a vast Christmas cake and I thought I would share what we did in case it could help anyone else who cannot eat eggs.  Older cookbooks, especially those published around the war, can be a very good source of egg free cake recipes, since eggs were sometimes hard to come by.  Anyhow, here goes:

Eggless fruit cake, adapted from Aunt Daisy

Figures in parentheses refer to smaller size of cake

(10oz) 1 ¼ lb plain flour
(6oz) ¾ lb brown sugar
(2oz) ¼ lb peel if liked
(½ tsp) 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
(just over ½) about 1 ¼ cups milk
(4oz) ½ lb butter
(12oz) 1 ½ lb mixed fruit
(2oz) ¼ preserved ginger
(circa 8) circa 16 glacé cherries
(1Tbsp) 2 Tbsp treacle
(½ tsp) 1 tsp each vanilla and almond essence
(2 Tbsp) 4 Tbsp brandy
zest of (½) 1 lemon
(½-1 tsp) 1-½ each ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg

Put oven onto heat to 150C (Gas Mark 2)Cream butter and sugar. Add treacle and mix in, followed by around half the milk, and the essences. Begin mixing in flour and fruit alternately a spoonful or so at a time. Add lemon zest, brandy and spices and stir in. Finally mix the remaining milk with the bicarbonate of soda and stir in. Put in a prepared cake tin, using the smaller quantity we made a cake that came about 2/3rds of the way up a 22cm round tin. Place a circle of greaseproof paper, with a hole in the middle, on top of the cake to prevent it from browning too fast on top. Cook on the lowest shelf of the oven at around 150C (Gas Mark 2) for just under two hours for the smaller cake, I would imagine closer to 3 hours for the larger cake (sorry I cannot be more exact, but 1940s cook books can be a little sparse on detail).
Once the cake is cooked take it out of the oven, place in its tin on a wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper from the top and “baste” with a couple of tablespoons of brandy before covering the entire tin closely in tin foil and leaving until completely cool. I got this tip from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess and it helps to keep the top of the cake from getting dry and hard.

Christmas cake

I found this page of conversions from the BBC Good Food website helpful, especially if you wished to make a square instead of round cake.

Ours is now wrapped up safely and in a tin awaiting Christmas, although we have not yet decided how to decorate it.  I hope you find this recipe helpful and enjoy it.

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