Christmas is almost upon us and time to start thinking about getting those christmas cakes going. Ruby is renowned for her baking and here she shares her spectacular fruit cake recipe which is equally good for christmas or your wedding. Ruby says “Gladioli Botha, an International Sugar Artist Judge, won first prize on the Rand Royal Show and many other shows for this Christmas Cake year after year. I belonged to a cake decorating club called Sugar Craft for many years and Gladioli Botha was our President and and my mentor – she shared her fabulous recipe with me. I used this as a base for the wedding cakes I baked and decorated in my wonderful little business in Johannesburg where I lived for 25 years. I have made this cake for at least 150 brides. So here we go.”
You need two tins, 8 inch square
Line each tin with a double layer of foil, shiny side to the inside.
Spread with butter.
4 1/2lbs of mixed fruit: raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel(optional-I don’t use, some people don’t like it)*
1 lb dates, finely chopped *
1 1/2 lbs butter *
1 1/2 lbs brown sugar *
1/2 lb pecans
1/2 lb glazed fruit
1 lb fresh cherries,halved and pips removed
12 eggs, extra large
2 lbs cake flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
]1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons bi carb
2 cups brandy
1 cup masala
- Boil together all ingredients marked with * with 2 cups water and 1 cup brandy for 15 minutes.
- Turn into a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons bi carb and stir. Leave to cool completely.
- Cut pecans, chop glazed fruit, wash cherries, which have been halved, and add to cooled mixture.
- Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternating with the eggs which have been beaten.
- Fill tins 2/3rds full. Wet hands with water and pat the top of the mixture until even – it will look sort of milky.
- NOW HERE IS THE TRICK. Put both tins into a cooking bag (roasting bag) and tie with string.
- Bake at 130 deg C for about 3 hours – 8″ square or 4 – 41/2 hours for a round tin
- You can smell when it is cooked. Not sure – stick a skewer into it and if it comes out clean its cooked.
- Take out the oven and pour remaining 1 cup brandy and 1 cup masala over the cakes whilst still in the cake tin. Put them back into the roasting bags and cover them with a blanket and allow them to cool completely (18 hours).
- Decorate if you are an artist or eat as is.
- Thank you, Ruby.
Who doesn’t like meringues? And berries are a reminder of hot summer days and look so christmassy. If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual christmas desserts, this one is a winner. Make the meringues a day ahead and store in an airtight container. Prepare berries in the morning.
4 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 punnets strawberries, each sliced into 4
1 punnet blueberries
1 punnet raspberries
2 Tablespoons fresh orange or lemon juice
plain yoghurt to serve, optional
- Preheat oven to 100°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Draw four 10cm circles on each tray.
- Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl using a Kenwood mixer until soft peaks form.
- Then whilst whisking, use the 1 cup of caster sugar to add one tablespoon at a time to egg whites, mixing well after each addition. Whisk until mixture is thick and glossy.
- Gently stir in coconut – do not whisk.
- Spoon the meringue evenly onto the circles you have drawn on the baking trays.
- Bake for 90 minutes or until crisp. Cool meringues on trays.
- Combine berries in a bowl and add orange or lemon juice. Cover and marinade up to 90minutes.
- To serve, place a meringue on a dinner plate. Gently press a cavity on top with a spoon. Top with a dollop of yoghurt. Spoon over berries.
- Serve immediately so that meringues retain their crispness.
The peaches look sensational as a table centrepiece in large white shallow bowl with their glorious colours. Use as a starter for New Year’s brunch instead of fresh fruit, or as a dessert for a summer lunch or dinner. The key element for flavour is the vanilla bean and to use only champagne – no water. An option is to use pink champagne which will add a glorious colour to the syrup. Don’t keep dish for too long as peaches will lose their shape and become wrinkly after about 18hours – it will still taste fine. I used to make the night before the brunch and leave elevated overnight over a basin of water so that the ants couldn’t get in.
20 small peaches or 12 large peaches – do not use cling peaches
1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine
1.3 cups caster sugar
Rind and juice of 2 oranges
1 vanilla bean
- Place caster sugar and champagne in a large saucepan with orange juice and rind, and vanilla bean.
- Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Add unpeeled peaches. Cover and simmer over low heat for 8-10 minutes until just tender. When skin starts to split, they are ready.
- Remove peaches with slotted spoon – skins should just slip off easily.
- Simmer liquid over medium heat without lid until reduced to 2 cups. It will be thick and syrupy.
- Remove vanilla bean. Pour syrup over peaches.
- Cool and serve at room temperature.
This recipe uses a shortcrust pastry which goes all biscuity and is quite divine despite the simplicity of the pastry. These are very traditional – hearty and delicious. The pastry is prepared using a Kenwood mixer rather than a food processor and the extra few minutes required are well worth the result. The pastry allows for a substantial quantity – only make as many tarts as you need and eat warm if you can. Save the remaining pastry in the fridge for another occasion during the festive season.
Makes 48 tarts (7cm diameter) with lids.
500g caster sugar
2 cups Self Raising flour
1½ cups plain flour
2 jars Robertson’s fruit mince
- Cream butter and sugar in Kenwood Mixer until almost white.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating all the while
- Add flour and knead well
- Break into two portions, wrap in cling wrap and store in fridge.
- Grease a 12 cup muffin baking pan with capacity for twelve 7cm diameter tarts.
- Roll pastry out to about ¼cm thick – you definitely don’t want these too thin.
- Using a 10cm cutter, cut rounds and line holes of prepared pan.
- Fill with Robertson’s fruit mince.
- Using a 7cm cutter, cut tops and place on top of fruit mince.
- Pinch pastry closed and brush with egg.
- Bake at 170°C for 15- 20minutes until lightly browned.
- Immediately turn out onto a wire rack so that pastry crisps up and does not get soggy.
- Cool 20minutes and serve sprinkled with icing sugar. They are wonderful eaten cold but even better slightly warm. For ultimate flavour, eat them on the same day you bake them or reheat if made the day before.
A curry dressing with the addition of lychees, mandarin segments and toasted almonds adds flair. The butter lettuce and english spinach combo of greens work best. The salad looks spectacular in a large shallow bowl or a large flat plate. It tastes wonderful with ham, a barbeque or a quiche. Eat the same day.
Serves 6 as a single salad or up to 12 if combining with 2-3 other salads.
1½ butter lettuces
1 bunch English spinach or 2 handfuls baby spinach loose leaves
1 avocado, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice
1x484g tin lychees, halved
1x340g tin mandarins
1 punnet cherry or mini roma tomatoes
2 lebanese cucumbers, optional
½ cup toasted slivered almonds
- Layer butter lettuce in a large shallow bowl
- Place spinach leaves in the centre of bowl
- Dot with avocado, lychees, mandarins, tomatoes and cucumber if using
- Pour dressing over just before serving. Top with toasted almonds
Curry Dressing – Mix well:
¼ cup(60ml) olive oil
30ml brown vinegar
1 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons spring onions, chopped
1 teaspoon soya sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
This is our traditional family starter – Christmas is the time to splash out on expensive ingredients like prawns and indulge. The secret to this recipe is to get the amount of cooking for the prawns just right – rather undercook than overcook as they will continue to cook by themselves. The biggest workload is peeling and deveining the prawns, which can be done ahead of time and delegated to another member of the family.
500g green king prawns (4 per person)
1 cup canola oil
4 large cloves garlic
1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Shell prawns, leaving the tail intact, and remove the back vein.
- Place all ingredients except the prawns in a saucepan. Heat until butter has melted and oil is very hot.
- Add prawns
- After 1 minute (no longer) remove from heat. The prawns will continue cooking in the residual heat.
- Serve in individual soufflé dishes or ramekins with wholemeal bread to mop up the sauce.
I believe a hot Christmas pud is too heavy after a big meal – not quite right for our hot southern summer Christmases. Younger children prefer the ice cream variety to the more traditional pud too. I like to serve plain as I feel adding chocolate or caramel sauce is too rich and berries don’t go well with the mixed fruit. You can decorate with a crumbled Cadbury flake or some additional glace fruit if you wish. Make the pud weeks or days ahead to allow more free time on Christmas day to enjoy presents and be with the family.
Serves 8-12 depending on serving size.
1½ cups quality fruit mixture with REAL glace cherries. I use Sunbeam brand.
1 cup boiling water
2 litres vanilla ice cream – a brand like Peters or Blue Ribbon is fine
1/2 cup additional mixed glace fruit, finely chopped
2 cups coarsely crushed biscuits- ginger nuts or butternut snaps work best
2 Tablespoons sherry
- Simmer fruit mix in boiling water for about 10minutes. Cool.
- Water should be absorbed. If not drain excess water.
- Add glace fruit, crushed biscuits, and sherry to fruit mix.
- Select an 18cm diameter conical mould. The Tupperware lettuce container, if you have one, works well. Using a cooking spray or lining the mould with cling wrap will make unmoulding easier.
- Line the mould with 1½ litres softened ice cream taking ice cream all the way up the sides – leave gap in the centre for the fruit mixture.
- Fill centre with fruit mixture. Smooth remaining ice cream over the top.
- Cover top with alcan foil or a lid. Freeze till required – at least overnight.
- Unmould onto serving platter just before eating. Dunk in warm – not hot – water for a few seconds if it sticks. Refreeze on serving platter for 10minutes or so.
- Decorate with Cadbury Flake or Glace fruit if using.
- Refreeze anything leftover for another day.
This is an unusual salad that works really well, particularly with Ham. It is important that the cabbage is really finely sliced. The topping and the dressing are enough for a whole cabbage or 16 – 24 people. Make the topping and dressing at least the day before as they need to be cooled before use and do keep for two weeks. Incidentally the topping is delicious as a snack on its own or used as a Dukkah.
¼ green cabbage
½ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts
½ cup sesame seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
1x30g packet Mamee Noodles,BarBQ flavour, crushed. See Note.
Dressing Simmer for 2 minutes. Cool.
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown vinegar
¼ cup soya sauce
¼ cup sugar
- Toast almonds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds on 120°C until brown, checking frequently.
- Cool and add crushed noodles – store in an airtight container like a Tupperware until required.
- Slice cabbage very finely and place in large shallow bowl.
- Toss with a quarter of the dressing once it has cooled.
- Sprinkle with a quarter of the nut/seed mixture just before serving.
Note: Mamee Noodles are a fried noodle snack for school lunch boxes found at most supermarkets. If substituting instant cup-o-noodles, then crush, sprinkle with paprika and bake with rest of topping ingredients. It’s strange but a great addition for texture. Of course you can omit this ingredient.
Chilli, lime juice, mint, basil and fresh coriander – A spicy salad that goes beautifully with ham or can stand on its own if you are a vegetarian. Serve cold. It literally takes minutes to make, goes far and keeps in the fridge for 2 to three days – a fabulous standby over a few days during the festive season.
Serves 8 -12 depending on total number salads
¾ cup olive oil
1/3 cup nam pla (fish sauce)
2 tablespoons Kecap Manis (sweet Indonesian soya sauce)
juice of 2 limes
3-4 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped or use 2 long red chillies if you prefer a milder flavour
½ bunch each of fresh mint, basil and coriander
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to packet instructions until al dente.
- Drain and refresh under cold water and drain again.
- Process all the dressing ingredients and toss through the pasta.
- Salad can be kept several days in the refrigerator.
I found this recipe in a copy of the Sunday Times in the early 1980’s and, with a few modifications, made it my own – one of the cakes that established my reputation as a cook. Aren’t people kind? The reputation is undeserved as this is so easy – use quality ingredients and don’t dry the cake out when you bake. Then you, too, will be famous. A bit of trial and error is involved in getting the moistness just right – make some notes that are specific to the way your oven functions till the cake is perfect. Believe it or not, this is a boiled fruit cake so you can make and eat it straight away. I boil then mix the whole thing in a deep 23cm pot. And, yes, it was the cake I made for our wedding cake.
Simmer in a large pot for 10 minutes:
750g mixed cake fruit mix, Use Sunbeam brand WITHOUT the imitation cherries
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
Add the following and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes:
125g glace cherries, halved (not imitation) or any other place fruit
1 cup mixed unsalted nuts, halved (mix of almonds, brazils and walnuts work best)
Cool thoroughly or overnight then add the following beaten together:
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon rum essence
2 Tablespoons brandy
Sift together and add:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Mix all well.
- Line a 23cm round baking tin with 3 layers of greaseproof or brown paper. Add fruitcake mixture.
- When baking it is best not to use the fan forced feature as this dries the cake out. Bake at 140°C for 45minutes then at 160°C for another 45 minutes. Start checking early and remove as soon as the knitting needle/skewer comes out just clean.
- Remove from pan and pour over 3T brandy. When cool turn cake over and pour over another 3T brandy.
- Wrap in 2-3layers of foil in an airtight container. Can be eaten immediately but can keep for 3 months.