Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent 2010: Stir-up Sunday

One of the great things about doing a unit study is the fun things we get to make and eat!  We always make fruitcake for Christmas (soaked in bourbon ... does it get any better than that?).  But this year, because of our Dickensian Christmas unit, I decided to hunt for a more traditional British Christmas Cake.  I found a lovely one online that steeps in sherry (altho you could use brandy (which makes me ill) or whiskey (which I didn't have)) for a few weeks and when ready to serve is covered in a layer of marzipan (YUM!) and than a fondant casing (we'll see about that!).

Anyway, the tradition is that the First Sunday in Advent is "stir up Sunday" ... meaning that if you started it steeping on the first Sunday by Christmas it would be nice and ripe! 

So here ya go:
Make sure that when stirring clockwise that you make a wish for Christmas!

Here's the recipe I used, with slight changes to the original from Delia Smith ...

Traditional Christmas Cake (makes one 8” round or 4 small loaf pans)

10oz. box dried currants
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
4 oz. container of diced candied orange peel, candied citron, AND candied lemon
1/2 cup cream sherry (+ more for “feeding” over the next few weeks)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
grated zest 1 orange

The night before you want to bake the cake, combine the raisins, currants and candied fruit and pour the sherry over all. Stir well and leave at least 6 hours ….

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the flour, the spices and beat until just combined. Finally, fold in the fruit, the pecans and the zest with a wooden spoon.

For 8” round: Line with parchment paper (I cut out a circle for the bottom by tracing, then cut a strip to wrap around the edges) and pour in the batter. Pat down, making batter as flat as possible. Place another circle of parchment paper with a hole cut in the middle making sure circle is about an inch larger all round; secure paper to pan with yarn.

For small loaves: spray well with Pam. Using a cup measure, scoop 2 cups of batter per loaf (this will fill the pan). Pat down and make sure it’s in there solid. Cut parchment paper to fit top (with about an inch all round to fold down). Cut a diamond in the center of each piece of paper. Fold around filled loaf pans and secure with cotton yarn.

Bake in the oven for 2 hours (loaves) or 4 -4.5 hours (round), or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan, then poke with skewers and pour some sherry over the top. Soak cheesecloth in more sherry, and wrap the cake thoroughly. Store in an airtight container for a week or two, “feeding” every few days with more sherry. The character of the cake will change with aging, making it more and more confection like the longer it ages.

Here's a link to the marzipan recipe and the fondant icing that we'll probably use: 

Prayers for a holy, healthy and happy Advent 2010!  And have a happy Stir-Up Sunday!

1 comment:

  1. That's how my Mum always does it- with the marzipan and icing. Actually her icing was originally royal icing (that took FOREVER to make LOL). She uses fondant now ;)

    This is the day that Christmas Pudding is traditionally made though :)