Christmas Baking

Every Christmas Eve I swear I’ll never bake another Christmas cake; every October I stockpile enough goodies to make one for every fragment of my (large) family.  This year I’m in the middle of baking / soaking 4 large cakes, which will turn into 8 little and 2 large cakes.  Every spare cm of space on the worktop beside the kettle is covered with plastic containers holding kilos of dried fruit and brandy.  Every time I pass, or make a put the kettle on for anything, I give one or more of the containers a good shoogle, oozing the now-syrupy brandy onto currants or sultanas that could do with a teensy bit more plumping up.  On the other work-surface is a growing stack of tin-foiled parcels that are carefully unwrapped every weekend, anointed with brandy, and lovingly rewrapped.  The kitchen does reek a bit…

This year, in a fit of indecision at which mincemeat to buy, I decided to make my own mincemeat.  I consulted friends, internet recipes, Nigella cookery books, and decided on what for me is the one that feels most homely: the one from the Glasgow Cookery Book.  I love that book!  It was the only recipe book we used when I was growing up (my mother and her mother were both graduates of Dough School).  My sister has the original one from then; I bought my own when an ad for the cookery book’s centenary triggered a wave of happy memories.  Now I find that the older I get, the more I go to its old, comforting, traditional recipes.  I’ve even started writing my own notes in its margins…!

So: this recipe for mincemeat is from that book, tweaked only very slightly by me…


Eat Me In One Month (ish)


100g raisins
100g sultanas
200g currants
100g chopped glace cherries
50g mixed peel
400g grated cooking apple
100g shredded suet
rind of a lemon
juice of a lemon
100g soft light brown sugar
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
125ml brandy


Whang it all in a big bowl and stir like hell until it’s all combined.  Cover with clingfilm.  Stir occasionally over the next day or 2.  Put into 4 sterilised jars and cover.  Store for a month before using.

For Lorna

I know that some friends are finding it difficult to find suet, mixed (candied) peel, or suitable spices, so here is another variant:

550g mixed, dried fruit
400g grated apple
a lemon
100g brown sugar
3 level teaspoons Christmassy spices
250ml brandy
Drink half the brandy. Put the rest in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix hard.  Drink whatever brandy’s left in the bottle, just to be tidy.  Put the mix into bowls and dot around the house behind plant pots (well, do you really want to eat the stuff when it’s not snowing and cold?!)

3 thoughts on “Christmas Baking

  1. Thought I would enter this realm of the unknown !
    I too love the Glasgow book -Wonder why?
    Edinburgh was the one used in Elgin. !!!!!
    Glasgow scones always work for me and that’s good.
    Delia’s Christmas cake is good as well and I got a lighter style one out of a magazine. Think it was Scottish Field but not sure. Remember the cake though.We ate the middle slice and then stuck it together with marzipan and icing. It worked and nobody knew.
    Had some wine to be followed by by the brandy!!LIke now!!

    • I love your idea of using marzipan to hide the wee hidden slice taken out for Quality Assurance purposes (ahem)… Scones – I like the Glasgow treacle scones (yum!) but the best scones for the oven I have just now is the Leith Cookery Bible version:
      225g plain flour, 55g salty butter, 1 T baking powder, whazz in a food processor, add milk till it just binds and no more. Pat out to about an inch high, stamp out 6 or 7 scones, hot (230degC) oven for 10 mins, demolish!

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