Christmas began with my dad’s birthday on 19th December and ended with my mum’s birthday on 7th January. In between, on Christmas Day, they celebrated their wedding anniversary. I wrote about that recently (One Snowy Christmas Day in London), and how special Christmas was because of it.
But this post is to celebrate the release of a Christmas anthology, A Season to Remember (click here) with three wonderful friends and fellow authors, Eva Scott, Noelle Clark, and Elizabeth Ellen Carter. It’s celebrating a Christmas memory and sharing a favourite recipe.
It’s forty years since Cyclone Tracy flattened Darwin in the north of Australia on Christmas Day, 1974. The devastation was terrible and poignant images from that day included this one.
My special memory of that year is of my wonderful eldest sister, Marie-Ann. In the aftermath of that disaster, she put together a dozen boxes of ‘little luxuries’ for women and children who had lost everything. Marie was not well off, but she was a generous and caring woman. Her kind heart led her to act for the benefit of people she would never meet but whose lives she could make a little better. She embodied the true spirit of Christmas, of what real giving is, and I miss her deeply.
(This was my dad's favourite - birthday or Christmas!)
- 600 gmixed glacé fruit
- 200 g(1 cup) red and green glacé cherries
- 55 g(¼ cup) glacé ginger
- 80 g(½ cup) brazil nuts
- 50 g(½ cup) walnuts
- 80 g(½ cup) blanched almonds
- 50 gunsalted butter, at room temperature
- 165 g(¾ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
- 2 tbspGrand Marnier (see Note)
- 35 g(¼ cup) plain flour, sifted
- 75 g(½ cup) self-raising flour, sifted
Cook's notes: Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Instructions: Preheat oven to 150°C. Combine fruits, ginger and nuts in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add liqueur and beat until just combined. Stir in flours until well combined. Pour batter over fruit mixture and stir gently until fruit is coated; don’t over-mix.
Grease and line the base and sides of an 11 cm x 21.5 cm loaf pan, extending paper 6cm beyond long edges of pan. Spoon batter into pan, press down firmly and bake for 1 hour. Cover with foil. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
• Substitute orange juice.
Photography by John Laurie.