It dawned somewhat belatedly that a grand cake would be essential for the bash celebrating a century of Roadleys on the farm at Batley. Strangely, this occurred to the farmer’s mother at about the same time – indecently early one morning when random to-do thoughts ahead of a big party hit overdrive.
“I’ll make it if you like,” I said, while thinking that, as giant fruit cakes for special events were more her domain, Zoe would be sure to say she’d make it. She even has about a dozen teatowels she keeps crisp and smart for such occasions.
Instead she said, “You’ll need my 10-inch tin.”
Ah well, she’d have to ice and decorate it as those skills are several stratospheres outside my domain, and at least I had a recipe. One Christmas my sister-in-law gave us such a delicious cake I’ve made it ever since. It’s called ‘Raewyn’s Christmas Cake’, because I name recipes after the person who’s given them to me, however TV3 news presenter Hilary Barry contributed it to Woman’s Day some years back.
The cake involves three simple steps, is bomb proof, and requires none of that tedious creaming butter and sugar business. But best of all, it provides an excuse (if you need one, and I do) to open a can of condensed milk, lick the lid and even dip into the milk itself – the cake doesn’t mind being short changed.
After contemplating the expansive tin, I made a double recipe, preparing a small tin for any left over mixture. There was none. If you’ve haven’t yet made your Christmas cake (and according to Christmas Traditions 101 you should have), you’ll probably like this one.
Raewyn’s Condensed Milk Christmas Cake
225g butter (melted) 1 c hot water
1 Tb white wine vinegar 2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice 1 kg dried fruit
1 can condensed milk 1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup sherry (or brandy or whisky… or even water)
1 tsp vanilla essence 2 ¼ c self-raising flour
Put the butter, hot water, vinegar, cinnamon, spice and dried fruit in a saucepan. Bring to boil while stirring. Add condensed milk and baking soda. Cool to room temperature.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bake in a 20cm tin at 140 deg C fan bake for two to 2.5 hours. Cool in the tin. Douse with sherry, brandy or whisky.
Note: The mixture fizzes up in a thrilling fashion when you add the condensed milk and baking soda, so use a big saucepan.
Zoe, with the help of my other sister-in-law, cleverly iced and decorated the cake with a colourful Roadley crest.
Meanwhile, the farmer decided the event was worthy of a magnum French Champagne, except he didn’t want us to drink it. He wanted to achieve his long-held dream of shaking the bottle and spraying the crowd.
“You need to have won the America’s Cup or Formula I for that,” I said. “Or the Tour de France. If you take enough drugs you might have a chance.”
We drank the Moet & Chandon – of course – while a friend helping at the party ferried a platter of cakes to guests. She later told me many people had commented favourably about its taste (I’d jazzed it up with crystallised ginger and cherries) and moist texture.
“Who made it?” they’d all asked.
“Zoe,” she’d replied.
Sometimes justice comes in the most unexpected ways.