Saturday, 24 December 2011

Something special for Boxing Day

Special Boxing Day Cake
I made some amazing discoveries amongst the treasure trove of recipes Grandma left in her collection. Here is her special cake for Boxing Day which has the key ingredients of dates, honey and a hint of almond, giving it a taste of North Africa. I’ve made Boxing Day Cake quite a few times over the last few weeks for people to try out at the various signings and events about Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking  book. It’s been fantastic to see the delight on their faces when they taste it. I've given the recipe out to listeners on Radio Sheffield  earlier this week as well.
There are various explanations about what is Boxing Day. The most popular one is that it was when servants received a box with leftover foodstuffs for them to take to visit their families after the Christmas Day festivities. 

I’ve not been able to find out where Grandma got this recipe from, but since it contains dates, I suppose this was a good way to use any dates left from Christmas Day feasting since you never have room to eat them on Christmas Day. It also has only a very small amount of sugar - 1 dessertspoon only.  In fact, I’ve made it without any sugar and let the sweetness come through the dates and honey. This cake will keep a few days as it is fairly moist. Grandma adds milk before baking in the oven which gives the cake a lighter texture. It doesn’t take too long to mix and will certainly be a talking point for your family and friends.


6 oz (175g) margarine or butter
1 dessertspoon sugar
3 tablespoons honey
3 eggs
4 oz (110g) dates
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Few drops of almond extract
1 lb (450g) self raising flour (sifted)
Milk to mix 
“Cream the fats, sugar and honey. Slowly beat in the eggs. Then add the dates (cut into quarters), nutmeg, salt and almond essence. Gradually, fold in the sifted flour. Beat well with a wooden spoon. Add the milk to give a soft consistency. Put into a greased and lined 8” (21cm) tin. Bake in a slow oven for about 1 hour.” (300 F, Mark 2, 150 C) .
Whatever you’re baking this Christmas, I wish you every good wish for a wonderful festive time and happy and blissful baking!
P.S. I went to see the E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children at Waterloo Station in London  recently. I’ve always loved the story since I first read it as a child in the 1950s. I thought the production was magnificent and it even brought back memories of going to Paris on the Eurostar from Waterloo station. The charity Railway Children  is one I’ve been supporting this Christmas.

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