Deck the Halls With Books & Baking
I will be the first to admit that too many British books in my collection left childhood me convinced that Christmas isn't Christmas without Turkish delight and some type of cake full of dried fruit and nuts. Well brandied cake if possible. Although, if sailing with pirates, you could use rum.
Lately, due to work circumstances, I've also been exploring Nordic Julefest traditions. Go look up the activities of Iceland's Yule Lads, like Pottaskefill, for holiday mythological fun.
Then there's the fact that I room with someone who shouldn't eat gluten but misses all those baked treats of the season.
So here's my response to all those holiday whimsies: Golden Julefest Cake with Rum-soaked Raisins And Nuts. As with all my cooking hacks, please remember that I'm a writer and not a gourmet. If you have better ideas, feel free to modify. I rarely make anything the same way twice. That's part of the fun for me. And if you want a story about cooking for the holidays, here's the link for my Cobalt City holiday adventure: A Very Panda Christmas.
Golden Julefest Cake with Rum-Soaked Raisins And Nuts
1 cup raisins (golden)
1 cup nuts (pecan bits in this version)
Left over spiced rum from a party that was some Jule ago.
Combine in glass jar and let soak overnight.
Next day - taste the raisins and go "oh my" and chop up the nuts. They'll be nicely softened and you can use a knife. Handy if trapped on a pirate ship without a food processor.
Onto the baking bit. Here's what else I found in the cupboard to make a cake. Spice as you wish.
1 box King Arthur Golden Cake Mix, Gluten Free
You can use any mix that makes 2 layers but this one works well for me.
1 cup apple sauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
(That's the spices that I used because that's all I have in my spice rack. Use up what you have in yours. One recipe I have calls for mace but I never have mace.)
2 cups rum-soaked raisins and nuts (see above)
2 cups other dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, and cherries work well)
1/2 cup other gluten free flour
Mix cake mix, eggs, and apple sauce in a large bowl along with spices.
Mix rum-soaked raisins, nuts, and other dried fruit in separate bowl with 1/2 cup of flour -- as per several recipes for yule cakes this keeps the fruit from all sticking together.
Pour dried fruit and nuts into cake mix and stir.
Avoid dropping in sixpences, silver stars, and other stuff of fairy tales. Nobody remembers to pick through their cake looking for them. Choking is no fun for the holidays.
Pour mixture into two 9" loaf pans, well greased. Bake in 275 degree oven for 1 hour 45 min. or until fork/tine/pirate sword inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack. Remove cakes from pans. Eat!
While waiting for the cakes to bake, go and find some holiday reading that will inspire a sudden need for baking and other culinary delights, such as:
A Christmas Carol
A Child's Christmas in Wales
The Box of Delights
The Dark is Rising
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Smith of Wootton Major
From my collection, a few favorites.