Saturday, 21 December 2013

It's All In The Booklet #3 - Your Christmas Cake


With only a hint of disgust, Fanny agrees to give two recipes for Christmas Cake - her Grandmothers Rich Fruit Cake, that so many people love (although not Fanny it would seem), and a 'spit new' one that Fanny has never shared before, her White Christmas Cake, which is beige of course. Fanny insists in the tough economic times that she is writing the booklet - which really has so much in it that it's a small book - that we all enjoy at least ONE decent cake in the year. I decide to make and enjoy both of course. The ingredients are similar, but instead of all dark fruits, the White Christmas cake has glacé pineapple, oranges, coloured cherries and her very favourite and long forgotten angelica. It's also made with a mixture of self raising flour and cornflour.


On TV Fanny assures viewers that she has scrubbed and scrubbed 'downstairs', but innuendo fans can relax as she means her hands in the make up room, presumably the studio is upstairs. For both cakes, hands are used to mix and squelch the ingredients together before they are plopped into the prepared cake tins ready for baking. I may have also used a spatula, luckily poor darling Sarah didn't attempt to tidy mine away, so no need to bark at her this time.


Once baked they really do look quite different, the old fashioned one is gloriously dark, shiny and heavy while the spit new version is light, and sparkly - but Fanny pleas that we please do not mistake it for a Madeira cake, Fanny will go right off you if you do. I know they are ready as they come out the oven NOT singing. This is Fannys top tip for cake testing, although if you are deaf, she says, use a skewer. I've made both cakes several weeks ago of course, Fanny says they are best if made a year in advance but I'm not convinced, or that prepared. I've been steadily feeding them with a Brandy ever since. Fanny recommends using the very cheapest of cooking Brandy from a miniature bottle, but feeling flush I go for something much more high end, it's just who I am. Sorry Fanny.


Fanny covers her cakes in real, classic, Almond Paste, which shouldn't be confused with nasty, cheap, shop bought Marzipan. It's made with ground almonds, icing sugar, raw egg whites, orange flower water and rose flower water. Please do not irritate Fanny, as one person did after at a demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall who wrote afterwards to tell Fanny her recipe was disgusting, and use flowery Face Cream instead of flavoured waters for culinary use. Okay? The waters used to be only available from the chemist, hence the mistake, but are now widely available in supermarkets thankfully. Fanny will NOT tolerate criticism from viewers and readers if they do not follow her recipes CORRECTLY. I do and it was a joy to make the almond paste actually, and easy to roll and cover the cakes.


For the icing, Fanny gets upset that we might revert to the usual Royal Icing which will create a fearful mess, break our teeth and fly across the room as we cut into it, but she grudgingly gives a recipe for it anyway. However her favoured recipe is for triumphant and easy to handle Fondant Icing and she encourages us to make this instead. Oh, I've never made my own, just bought some and rolled it out. It was surprisingly easy to make too though - just icing sugar, egg whites and gently warmed liquid glucose.


Fanny has another top tip for rolling out the icing, which I am dubious about but it really works well, and that's to use cornflour. It never sticks, and won't spoil the icing. Fabulous. Fanny shows us how to slip our arms under the rolled out fondant, of course making sure our nails are well manicured and clean, and lift it carefully over the cakes before smoothing down. For old fashioned cake I keep it traditional, but for the White Christmas version I add a swirl of blue food colouring for a marbled effect. Fanny thinks blue colouring is best for cakes and green for potatoes. I have transformed the 'rather dull assembly of cakes' into sparkly festive crackers. I'm almost as relieved as Fanny when she rather surprisingly proclaims 'we've done it' to poor Sarah. Unfortunately, I don't have a Johnnie, who is terribly good at these things, on hand with ordinary florist paper and a tube of UHU glue to make my trims, but I manage. Merry Christmas!

38 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I've heard recently that it's better to use cornflour than icing sugar to roll out fondant

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    1. It really worked, kept it all slippery and moving! Thanks!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, I know how you love Christmas Cake ;-)

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  3. Merry Christmas! The cakes look lovely - bet they will go down a storm tomorrow!

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  4. A great post on my favourite episode. All my treasured Fanny quotes have been artfully included bar the admonishing "Liquid Glucose", indignantly spat at the moronic viewers.
    I am not a fan of Christmas cake as I don't like dried fruit but Fanny's version and yours look so inviting I'm tempted to make it.
    On a side note I've tried without success to find the infamous "Creme Marie Louise" cream dessert recipe that Fanny mentions in the Rose water face cream debacle. Is it included in the Cookery Course?
    As ever I am thoroughly enjoying your blog and I'm currently trying to work out how to follow it on Blogger. Have you joined up to Google+ or are you still Blogger only?
    Please find below a belated Christmas Gift. A mixed up version of the Christmas Cake episode which is at times quite amusing, stick through the first 30 seconds though as they're not really that funny.
    http://youtu.be/adCyL0pUDtI
    Repeat after me, "now obviously I've done the buttercream"

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    1. Thanks! The famous dessert is of course included much later in the partwork - in both the original version and a mini 'simpler' version too- as well as a full page of the back story and a pic strip of Fanny creating it! I can send it to you by email if you like? Click on the email me button should work. As for following, have you tried Bloglovin? There's a link there to follow me... Google+ won't let me sign up as ten blog! you have to be a real bona fide person!

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  5. hi there :-) do you have the recipe for fannys white xmas cake , i would love to do this cake this xmas thanks jase

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    1. I do! What's the best way to get it to you? I keep meaning to add it to the Recipes tab on here, would that work?

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    2. I have this recipe
      would you like me to send it to you ?

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    3. It's in the recipe tab on this blog now too!

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  6. you have the recipe thats fab ! thanks for getting back to me , is there any chance you could put it on here or what ever is best for you , im not sure hoe to get my email addresse to you

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  7. My mum was wondering if you are going to publish the trifle recipes as she going on about a Swiss roll type one

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    1. Hi, do you have the recipe for the dark Christmas cake available? I've been watching re-runs of Fanny's Christmas show on some Sky Channel and love it!

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    2. Hi, just updated the recipe page with it - enjoy! Let me know how you get on!

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    3. Hi, just thought I would let you know, I made the dark Christmas cake this weekend. It smells absolutely gorgeous and I cant wait to try it - roll on Christmas!! The only difference I made was that I steeped my fruit in Port and Brandy for a week before hand. It made the mixture a lot more "sloppy" but hasn't made a difference to the overall effect of the cake - happy bunny!!

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    4. Fabulous, the sloppier the better! Hope you scrubbed your hands before mixing it up! Let me know how it goes on Christmas!

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  8. Hi there and thanks for a fabulous blog!
    I'm going to make Fannys famous white, beige christmas cake. Just one question:
    Cornflour? In Denmark, where I live, cornflour is the yellow flour made by grounded corn. In the UK, cornflour is what I would call cornstarch, right? The super fine white flour, like icing sugar?
    Have to be sure....imagine Fannys face if I made it wrong!
    Hope you can help.
    Anders....a Fanny fan ;-)

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    1. Yes, cornstarch! Let me know how you get on, it's a lovely cake! Hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

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  9. Hi, would you please send me the recipe for the white christmas cake or post it here? I so want to make it this year. Thanks!

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    1. The recipe is in the Recipes tab at the top of the page, hope you find it! Let me know he you get on!

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  10. Your site is a joy. Thank you for all the time and trouble you've put into it. I've made my Christmas cakes but can't resist trying the White Christmas one too. What size tin does it need? I hope you have a lovely Christmas when it comes.

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    1. Aw thanks, that's so nice to hear! The White Christmas cake is lovely, you'll enjoy it! Fanny recommends a 8 1/2 - 9 1/2 inch tin, fairly deep! Let me know how you get on!

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    2. Thank you. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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    3. I made the cake and we cut it on Christmas Eve. It's delicious! I'll make it again. I was lucky enough to get a Fanny cookbook in my stocking, found by my partner in a West Port bookshop for 10p. I hope you are having a lovely Christmas and that 2015 brings you peace and joy. Thanks again for your advice and recommendation.

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    4. Brilliant, thanks for letting me know! I must pay West Port a visit, been a while since I've wandered round there! Let me know what else you make!

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  11. As a young Mum Fanny was my great stand by. I have always used her Christmas cake recipe. Do try her 'Mum's chocolate trifle - magnificent, or Gilbert Harding's Lemon pudding........

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    1. That's good to hear! I made the Gilbert Harding one in a cake... It's great! http://keepcalmandfannyon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/zest-for-life-fanny-cradock-lemon.html

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  12. hi there i made the white xmas cake & it turned out beautiful , plus i am now the proud owner of the 1975 xmas cook book , also i have the coping with xmas 1968 its fab xxx

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    1. Fantastic, so glad you liked it! You'll have so much fun with the booklet and book - it's time to start planning for next Christmas already! Both are fab x

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  13. hi , do you think it is to early yet to make fannys white xmas cake many thanks jason .

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    1. No, it's the prefect time, plenty of opportunties to feed it more brandy!

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  14. Made the White Christmas Cake yesterday. Converting the gas mark temperatures to fan oven somehow resulted in a doubling of the cooking time (yes I double checked the conversions!) but am very pleased with the end result. I did think 1hr 20mins seemed a bit short anyway. One slight addition to the authenticity of the process was that the cake tin I used belonged to my grandmother, who was born in 1909, same year as Fanny.

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    1. Aw that's lovely, glad you were pleased with the result anyway!

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