Have you ever done something you know you shouldn’t do (and you’ve been told you are definitely not allowed to do) but do it anyway? I have definitely been guilty of that this week. One of the guys I work with has become my wine guru. He recommends fantastic vineyards I’ve never heard of that produce amazing wines, and points me to websites that sell wine for good prices. Which is where the trouble started…
I count beans for a living (accountant-type stuff), and because of this I am “careful” with my money. My grandparents are Dutch, so I was born with a natural predisposition to spend money only when it was a bargain or when the item was needed. When I was a kid, I used to stuff the $200 notes at the beginning of a Monopoly game under the board so I always had some saved at the end. No matter what it is, if I consider it of value I will squirrel it away for a rainy day.
Combining my inner squirrel with an online wine auction site is a very dangerous thing. My wine guru sent me to this wonderful site, and Frank has been regretting it ever since. I have managed to bag some wonderful wines for a quarter of the price in the shop, but my love of a bargain has turned into an obsession. The other night I bid on two cases when I only wanted one, and Frank told me to no longer order wine until we’d finished what we had. But the next day I went back online, and two additional cases are due to hit the Pig Palace next week. (Frank doesn’t know yet, so I’m hoping he won’t notice the extra boxes in the dining room…)
My excuses are: a) they are bargains, b) we are having lots of guests to share it with, and c) the Festive season is almost upon us! And as I love all things Christmas so much, I thought it was high time we begin some Pig Palace Christmas traditions. First one off the block – boozy Christmas cake! Frank isn’t the biggest fan, but Mom and I are, so I’ve made two to stew in the cupboard until the great unveiling at Christmas.
This recipe is so easy and straight-forward. Give it a try!
Easy boozy Pig Palace Christmas cake – recipe from the BBC Good Food website
200g butter , softened to room temperature
200g dark muscovado sugar
200g plain flour
4 eggs , beaten
50g ground almonds
100ml sherry , sweet or dry, whatever you have in the cupboard
85g candied peel , roughly chopped
85g glacé cherries , roughly chopped
100g pack pecans nuts, broken into big pieces
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1½ tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp rosewater
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round, 7.5 cm deep cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 mins until very creamy and pale in colour, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through. Stir in a spoonful of the flour, then stir in the beaten egg and the rest of the flour alternately, a quarter at a time, beating well each time with a wooden spoon. Stir in the almonds.
Mix in the sherry (the mix will look curdled), then add the peel, cherries, raisins, cherries, nuts, lemon zest, spice, rosewater and vanilla. Beat together to mix, then stir in the baking powder.
Spoon mixture into the tin and smooth the top, making a slight dip in the centre. Bake for 30 mins, then lower temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake a further 2-2¼ hrs, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin, then take out of the tin and peel off the lining paper. When completely cold, wrap well in cling film and foil to store until ready to decorate. The cake will keep for several months. If you want to, brush the cake with a small amount of sherry once a week until Christmas…