With only a hint of disgust, Fanny agrees to give two recipes for Christmas Cake - her Grandmothers Rich Fruit Cake, that so many people love (although not Fanny it would seem), and a 'spit new' one that Fanny has never shared before, her White Christmas Cake, which is beige of course. Fanny insists in the tough economic times that she is writing the booklet - which really has so much in it that it's a small book - that we all enjoy at least ONE decent cake in the year. I decide to make and enjoy both of course. The ingredients are similar, but instead of all dark fruits, the White Christmas cake has glacé pineapple, oranges, coloured cherries and her very favourite and long forgotten angelica. It's also made with a mixture of self raising flour and cornflour.
On TV Fanny assures viewers that she has scrubbed and scrubbed 'downstairs', but innuendo fans can relax as she means her hands in the make up room, presumably the studio is upstairs. For both cakes, hands are used to mix and squelch the ingredients together before they are plopped into the prepared cake tins ready for baking. I may have also used a spatula, luckily poor darling Sarah didn't attempt to tidy mine away, so no need to bark at her this time.
Once baked they really do look quite different, the old fashioned one is gloriously dark, shiny and heavy while the spit new version is light, and sparkly - but Fanny pleas that we please do not mistake it for a Madeira cake, Fanny will go right off you if you do. I know they are ready as they come out the oven NOT singing. This is Fannys top tip for cake testing, although if you are deaf, she says, use a skewer. I've made both cakes several weeks ago of course, Fanny says they are best if made a year in advance but I'm not convinced, or that prepared. I've been steadily feeding them with a Brandy ever since. Fanny recommends using the very cheapest of cooking Brandy from a miniature bottle, but feeling flush I go for something much more high end, it's just who I am. Sorry Fanny.
Fanny covers her cakes in real, classic, Almond Paste, which shouldn't be confused with nasty, cheap, shop bought Marzipan. It's made with ground almonds, icing sugar, raw egg whites, orange flower water and rose flower water. Please do not irritate Fanny, as one person did after at a demonstration at the Royal Albert Hall who wrote afterwards to tell Fanny her recipe was disgusting, and use flowery Face Cream instead of flavoured waters for culinary use. Okay? The waters used to be only available from the chemist, hence the mistake, but are now widely available in supermarkets thankfully. Fanny will NOT tolerate criticism from viewers and readers if they do not follow her recipes CORRECTLY. I do and it was a joy to make the almond paste actually, and easy to roll and cover the cakes.
For the icing, Fanny gets upset that we might revert to the usual Royal Icing which will create a fearful mess, break our teeth and fly across the room as we cut into it, but she grudgingly gives a recipe for it anyway. However her favoured recipe is for triumphant and easy to handle Fondant Icing and she encourages us to make this instead. Oh, I've never made my own, just bought some and rolled it out. It was surprisingly easy to make too though - just icing sugar, egg whites and gently warmed liquid glucose.
Fanny has another top tip for rolling out the icing, which I am dubious about but it really works well, and that's to use cornflour. It never sticks, and won't spoil the icing. Fabulous. Fanny shows us how to slip our arms under the rolled out fondant, of course making sure our nails are well manicured and clean, and lift it carefully over the cakes before smoothing down. For old fashioned cake I keep it traditional, but for the White Christmas version I add a swirl of blue food colouring for a marbled effect. Fanny thinks blue colouring is best for cakes and green for potatoes. I have transformed the 'rather dull assembly of cakes' into sparkly festive crackers. I'm almost as relieved as Fanny when she rather surprisingly proclaims 'we've done it' to poor Sarah. Unfortunately, I don't have a Johnnie, who is terribly good at these things, on hand with ordinary florist paper and a tube of UHU glue to make my trims, but I manage. Merry Christmas!