The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
This beautiful advent song has some very emotional images - beautifully sung by Aled Jones - just click on the arrow to listen
Christmas cakes are made and as promised, here's the recipe I use. My great-aunt Gladys gave it to me a long time ago so measurements are imperial, but easy to convert if you are more comfortable with metric - it can also be made using gluten free 'flour' which is readily available in most supermarkets (it definitely is at Morrisons because I checked) - so if you need gluten free, it's fairly easy.
You will need 2lbs of dried fruit - some recipes say specific amounts of each, but if you have the right end-amount, in the quantities you like, then that's fine. You can even chop some dried apricots or flaked almonds, or walnuts - the choice is yours so long as it totals 2lbs. Put the fruit into a bowl and douse it with about four tablespoons of your favourite tipple - I prefer brandy, but rum is good too. Leave this to soak for an hour or two (overnight is best).
You will need to prepare your cake tin - either 8 inch round or 7 inch square (although I did mine in 7 inch rounds and as you can see from the photograph, they are really deep. Another photograph further down the page).
Grease it well and/or line with grease-proof paper. Also, tie a band of brown paper around the outside of the tin. Cut a double layer of grease-proof paper the same size as the bottom of the tin and cut a hole in the middle (fold it in four and snip a circle around the point about the size of a pound coin). There, you're ready to go.
Put a tin of black treacle somewhere warm so that it becomes a bit runny for when you need it and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275F or 130 C.
Take your soaked fruit and add the grated rind of one lemon and one orange together with 2oz of ground almonds and stir it up and leave for a moment.
You'll need to whisk 8oz of soft brown sugar with 8oz of softened butter (unsalted if poss) until it's light and fluffy. Then, in a small bowl or jug break four large eggs and whisk them, then weigh your flour: 8oz of plain - this is where you use gluten free if you need to - and to it add half a teaspoon of mixed spice and another half of salt.
Add the eggs to the sugar and butter, a bit at a time (if it begins to look curdled, add some sifted flour). Eggs all in, fold in the flour and spices. When you've done that add a dessertspoon of the (now runny) black treacle and stir it in followed closely by the fruit mixture. When it's thoroughly mixed, spoon it into your prepared tin. Cover the top with the grease-proof with the hole in and place on a low shelf in the oven. If you have a fan oven, you will need to place a teaspoon on the grease-proof paper to prevent it from blowing away.
It will take about four-and-a- quarter to four-and-three-quarter hours to cook. I often cook them overnight on a slightly lower temperature setting and by using the automatic timer on the cooker. You can leave it in the oven for an hour after end-time.
I'll just give you an ingredient re-cap and off you jolly well go!
2lbs of mixed, dried fruit
4 tablespoons brandy or rum (or orange juice)
8oz plain flour (or gluten-free flour)
half teaspoon salt
half teaspoon mixed spice (nutmeg is a nice addition too)
4 eggs (medium to large)
8oz soft brown sugar
8oz butter (unsalted if poss)
Grated rind of one lemon and one orange
2oz ground almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
8 inch round or 7 inch square tin, brown paper and grease-proof paper.
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