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 The Night Before

The night before I make the cake I prepare the fruit and nuts. I still use my mum’s big old mixing bowl, which has seen the mixing of a multitude of cakes. Mum was born in 1903 and died in 1997. She was a true home-maker. Everything was made from scratch in her day. I have also inherited her old kitchen scales. I do prefer the old-fashioned sort to the modern digital ones – even if they are a bit rusty in places and have a cracked bowl.

So the first thing to do is to weigh out the dried fruit and put it in the bowl. This is a mixture of raisins, sultanas and currants. I didn’t use currants this year; they’re not popular here in France and I couldn’t find any in either of my local shops. So I used two sorts of raisins and some lovely yellow sultanas.

Next the peel and cherries, both which needed to be chopped.

Then almonds. These need blanching in hot water and then skinning and chopping. At this point I snapped an ‘arty’ shot of the little saucepan on the gas with some interesting reflections on the side.

The zest of one orange and one lemon is added next. I hate this bit. There’s hardly a year gone by when I haven’t managed to grate a bit of my knuckle. So a few weeks back, while on a visit to the U.K, I invested in a super new razor-sharp grater from Lakeland. Well hell the thing is lethal. One false move and you could shred all your knuckles to ribbons! I was being such a wimp that my husband took it off me and did the job himself. He was only in the kitchen sniffing around in the hopes of a bit of cake-mix, but that doesn’t happen till tomorrow.

Last but not least we pour over the fruit and nut mixture a good dose of French Armagnac. It smells wonderful! Mix it all together and let it fester overnight.  In the next post we’ll make the cake.