Allyson Gofton - Christmas Countdown

Publish Date
Friday, 20 November 2015, 9:36AM
By Allyson Gofton

Believe it or not we are only a month from Christmas and it’s now time to make the Christmas cake and Christmas Pud.

This week, I’ve put up several recipes for you to choose from including a great gluten free fruit cake, Tui Flower’s traditional Christmas cake, and my favourite Guinness Pud recipe. Make  these food early so they flavours have time to marry and the cakes can set, ensuring they will cut well.

Essential Tips

  • Read the recipe before beginning, as you may need to begin the day before preparing the fruit.
  • Check that you have all the ingredients before starting.
  • Prepare the cake tin before preparing the cake. The tin should be greased and lined preferably with two layers of brown paper and one of baking paper. If no brown paper is available use 3 layers of baking paper.
  • The lining on the inside sides of the cake tin, should extend above the top of the cake tin by 2cm.
  • The outside should be wrapped in 3-4 layers of newspaper and tied in place with heat-proof string. This will protect the outside of the cake from over-browning.
  • Have the butter and eggs at room temperature, or the creamed mixture will separate when the eggs are being added.
  • Old recipes call for the fruit to be washed and dried. This is not necessary today with the quality of dried fruit that we can purchase. However, it is still a good idea to wash glace cherries and dry well to remove excess syrup.
  • A rich fruit cake is very heavy and the mixture is stiff. This is to support the weight of fruit and nuts in the cake.
  • As it takes time to make and cook a fruit cake, you can prepare it one day, cover with a loose cloth and bake it the next day.
  • I always make a shallow indent in the centre, which ensures the cake, rises to form a level top when cooked.
  • Bake a heavy fruit cake in the mid-lower section of the oven.
  • If the cake begins to brown too much on top, cover with brown paper or baking paper. It is best not to use foil.
  • Allow the cake to cool thoroughly in the tin before removing. Wrap the cake securely in a double layer of greaseproof and then in foil, leaving the lining paper on the cake until ready to decorate.
  • If pouring on brandy or other spirit, prick the cake with a fine skewer when cold. Slowly and evenly pour the brandy or spirit over the cake. You can un-wrap and pour brandy or spirit over the cake during storage.
  • Rich fruit cakes are best made 2-3 months in advance of being cut. This will allow the flavours to mature and marry together and the cake will “set” firmly and cut far better.

Guinness Christmas Pudding
A classic pud recipe to share this Christmas, it can be cooked in a cloth, or a bowl and both instructions are given here. In my house we accompany the pud with a classic hard brandy sauce and whipped cream.

70 gram packet each of almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts
2 cups stale white breadcrumbs
1½ cups mixed dried fruit
¾ cup finely grated carrot
¾ cup dark brown or muscovado sugar
½ cup finely chopped prunes
½ cup finely diced dried figs
½ cup flour
125 grams Shreddo or butter, grated
½ cup Guinness or dark beer
4 eggs
2 tblsp treacle or golden syrup, warmed
Grated rind each 1 lemon and 1 orange
½ tsp each mixed spice and cardamom or ginger
Classic hard brandy sauce
125 grams unsalted butter, softened
1-1½ cups sifted icing sugar
2-4 tablespoons brandy


  1. Finely chop the nuts, and place in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, dried fruit, grated carrot, sugar, prunes, figs, flour and butter. Stir together and make a well in the centre.
  2. Beat together the Guinness, eggs, treacle, citrus rinds and spices and pour into the well. Mix together well.
  3. Pack the mixture into a well greased and floured oven roasting bag and shape into a ball. Wrap the ball in scalded calico and tie very securely with string to ensure the pudding remains water tight. Tie the ends of the calico together so that you can hook the hot pudding out at the end of cooking.
  4. Have a large stock pot of water at boiling and place an old saucer in the base to be a trivet. Place the pudding into the boiling water. Bring back to the boil, the water should cover the pudding
  5. Simmer the pudding gently for 3 hours, topping up with boiling water as the level gets low. Lift the pudding out and hang to dry suspended so that it forms a round cannon ball shape. When cold and firm store in the fridge.

    To Reheat To Serve:
  6. Bring the stock pot of water to the boil with the saucer in the base. Lower the pudding in. Simmer for 1 hour and then serve
  7. Classic Hard Brandy Sauce
  8. Beat together butter, sugar and brandy. Serve slightly chilled.
  9. Bowl-cooked pud
  10. Grease a 2 litre (8-cup) pudding bowl and pile the mixture into the bowl. Cover with 2 layers of baking paper, making a pleat in the centre to ensure room for the pud to rise if need be. Tie securely with string. Cover with a layer of foil, again with a pleat across the centre and tie with string. Cook as given above, ensuring that the water comes only three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pudding bowl. Top up with boiling water during cooking time. Store refrigerated.



Gluten Free Christmas Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Makes: 1 cake

250 grams butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
6 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup brandy or sherry
Grated rind and juice 1 orange
Grated rind and juice 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon baking soda
600 grams ground almonds
500 grams raisins
250 grams currants
250 grams sultanas
125 grams mixed peel
125 grams glace cherries, chopped

Nuts and glace fruits, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 120°C. Set the oven rack just below the centre. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin well. Line the base and sides with two layers of brown or baking paper. Wrap the outside of the cake tin in several layers of newspaper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and honey together until the mixture is very light and creamy. Beat in the egg a little at a time; do not rush or the mixture will split. Stir together the brandy or sherry, essences, baking soda and orange and lemon rind and juices.
  3. Into the creamed mixture stir in the ground almonds and dried and glace fruits with the brandy or sherry mix. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin. Decorate the top with nuts and or glace fruit if wished.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 3½ - 4 hours, or until a cake skewer inserted comes out clean. If the almonds begin to brown too much, cover with a piece of baking paper. Remove from the oven, cover with a light, clean tea-towel and set aside until completely cold before lifting the cake out of the cake tin so as not to disturb the almonds on top from the cake.



Tui Flower's Christmas Cake
I had a request off my facebook page for Tui Flower’s Christmas Cake recipe as the enquirer said it was the best. So here it is. We use to make this at the Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen eons ago and it is ideal for all special occasions.

Prep Time:
45 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 hours
Makes: 1x 22cm round cake

3 cups currants
3½ cups raisins
1¼ cups sultanas
½ cup dates, stoned and chopped
½ cup each crystallised ginger, and crystallised cherries chopped
½ cup crystallised peel
¾ cup blanched almonds, chopped
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
½ cup dark coloured seedless jam
½ cup crushed pineapples including the juice
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon each almond essence and lemon essence
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
250 grams butter, softened
1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature and 3-4 tablespoons brandy


  1. Line the base and sides of a 22cm round or square cake tin with 2 layers of brown paper and one layer of baking paper on the inside. Preheat the oven to 120-130°C. Set the oven rack just below centre in the oven.
  2. Toss the currants, raisins, sultanas, dates, ginger, cherries, mixed peel and almonds with the orange juice, jam, pineapple, vanilla, almond and lemon essences. If wished cover and stand overnight.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together twice to ensure the spices are well mixed into the flour. Mix 1 cup of the flour into fruit.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together until light in colour and very fluffy and creamy in texture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gently mix the fruit and flour into the creamed mixture. Press firmly into the prepared tin, making sure you have the mixture well pushed into the corners so that the cooked cake has a good shape.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 hours or until cooked. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before removing. Brush the brandy over the cake and wrap the cake- and baking papers - in foil and store in an airtight container. Preferably store for 4-6 weeks before cutting to allow the flavours to mature and the cake to ‘set’ so that it cuts well and does not crumble.

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