Saturday, June 13, 2009

A week of birthdays

It's been a busy couple of weeks with birthday celebrations. The week started with the Queen's birthday, which was marked by a public holiday the previous Monday. I've always thought it slightly odd that NZ mark the day with a public holiday, as does Australia, and yet the day goes virtuously un-noticed in the UK!
The Son celebrated his 11th birthday last Sunday. He had a 'movie night' party at home, with the husband making home-made individual pizzas for everyone, each choosing their own toppings. We also had a pick-n-mix, home made pop-corn, and ice-cream cones. The evening was finished off with the Son's favourite chocolate mud cake.

My own birthday was a few days later. It's funny how an 11 year old's view of birthdays can differ so much from someone in their very late thirties. I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to this birthday, as I'm not exactly relishing turning 40 next year. *Sigh*. It took me until early afternoon to really start enjoying myself. By dinner time I was feeling thoroughly spoilt with flowers, chocolates, a charm for my bracelet, and Jo Malone perfume.

To finish the day off, The Husband made us steak with a wine and grainy mustard sauce. He also made me a birthday cake - which was absolutely divine! The recipe was from Nigella's Christmas book.

Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake
350g/12¼oz dried soft prunes, chopped
250g/8¾oz raisins
125g/4½oz currants
175g/6¼oz unsalted butter, softened
175g/6¼oz dark muscovado sugar
175ml/6¼fl oz honey
125ml/4½fl oz coffee liqueur
2 oranges, juice and zest only
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp good quality cocoa
3 free-range eggs, beaten
150g/5¼oz plain flour
75g/2½oz ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm/8in, 9cm/3½in deep, round loose-bottomed cake tin with a layer of reusable silicon baking parchment.
When lining the tin with the parchment, cut the material into strips that are twice as high as the tin itself (it is easier to use two shorter strips of parchment, than one long strip); the height of the strips protects the cake from catching on the outside of the cake tin.
Place the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, coffee liqueur, orange juice and zest, mixed spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan. Heat the mixture until it reaches a gentle boil, stirring the mixture as the butter melts.
Let the mixture simmer for ten minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.After 30 minutes, the mixture will have cooled a little. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate soda, and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients have combined.
Carefully pour the fruitcake mixture into the lined cake tin. Transfer the cake tin to the oven and bake for 1¾-2 hours, or until the top of the cake is firm but will has a shiny and sticky look.
At this point, if you insert a sharp knife into the middle of the cake, the cake should still be a little uncooked in the middle.6. Place the cake on a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin.


connor (a.k.a. the son) said...

hi mum i loved the cake and the movie night it was awesome and u r right it was and still is my favirote cake

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