Monday, December 7, 2020

In my Christmas Kitchen 2020

 My friends it's been a cooking frenzy in my kitchen this last week, preparing for Christmas and the arrival of our daughter and family. Sore feet, music constantly playing, lots of water and the occasional vino, have ensured the marathon is completed. So here are just a few photos, and  very sincere and warm wishes for a wonderful festive season from Mr. HRK and me. I might not be back on the blogging platform until the New Year but I will be reading what you are up to. This is my December contribution to the wonderful Sherry Picking's In My Kitchen series. Thanks Sherry. 

This is my latest Christmas fruit cake, no fiddling with the photo at all, and a very nutty presentation this year.  I could have even added more nuts.

Recipe is on my blog. Link to Christmas cake recipe

Christmas cake ready for the oven

I made the next cake especially because my daughter loves it, as do I. This is a Coffee and Walnut cake or slice. Old fashioned cakey goodness, with lots of coffee icing this time. A bit flattened because it is already in it's protective container. Link to the Coffee and Walnut Cake

Another fruit cake to get us through until the ceremonial cutting of the Christmas cake, I know, does that sound like an indulgence? This is my Boiled Cherry Brandy Fruit cake, our friend Paul's Mothers recipe. A real goodie this one. Link to the recipe here. I think it could double up as a Christmas cake really.

Also the plum puddings are made, 4 hours of simmering away in the big pots. The most difficult part of that exercise is keeping the water simmering at a constant heat. Well worth it though.

What I love about this time of year is the smell of mangoes in the refrigerator, and eating them as well. Now that the mango chutney is made, there's lots of mango eating to be achieved and some mango ice cream to be churned.

Walks on the beach with  Locky our Border Collie have been a welcome respite during the warm weather. We are lucky to live so close. He is having a little holiday for a few days with good friends whilst we have a little dog free holiday, and we miss him already.

Oh I nearly forgot, last week I made another edition of Nigella's Apricot Rosewater Almond cake with Cardamon when 9 book club friends came over to our house for our bookclub meeting, and the cake was delicious as always. We discussed A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles, which I read twice, and loved it even more the second time. So if you can get your hands on it over Christmas, I highly recommend it. It is a sublime read, with lots of wonderful references to Russian food and wine and music from the 1920s, just after the Russian revolution, written from a food lover's perspective. It is also a real book of manners and gives an insight into the history of the time. It is work of fiction though.

Apricot Rosewater Almond Cake with Cardamons


Serves 8-10

150 grams dried apricots
250 millilitres cold water
2 cardamon pods (cracked)
200 grams ground almonds
50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
nonstick spray or sunflower oil for greasing

For Decorating

2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios


Grease and line a 1 x 20 cm/8-inch round spring form cake tin
  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and drop in the cracked cardamon pods, still containing the fragrant cardamon seeds. Bring to the boil, and keep it bubbling on the stove for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it as at the end of 10 minutes  the saucepan will be just about out of water but mustn't boil dry. The apricots will absorb more water as they cool. 
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the apricots to cool.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C./160 deg. C. Fan, or Gas mark 4/350 deg. F.
  4. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, and set them aside on a plate for a while. Discard the cardamon husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  5. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the saucepan including the apricots into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  6. Open up the top of the food processor, scrape down the batter, and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, however if the cake is browning  too early, cover it loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn't need to do this. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  8. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you are using apricot jam to decorate and this gives a beautiful gloss and flavour to the cake, warm it up a little first to make it easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Then sprinkle with the pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before releasing from the cake tin and removing to a serving plate.
That's all folks. Even if yours is a quiet Christmas, I hope you can manage some food indulgences, after all it is the festive season. The Australian government is urging us Aussies to drink more wine to support the suffering industry, no problem mate. Yippee, it's holiday time.

Warm wishes,



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Nil, Christmas is a great excuse to enjoy delicious treats. Hope you are well. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. We love nutty fruitcake! My husband could eat them all year round, but esp. in this time of the year. The almond cake looks amazing as well, Pauline. Have a great week ahead and enjoy the holiday season!

    1. Thanks Angie, yes fruit cake is a favourite in our house. Enjoy the festive season.

  3. Pauline, lots of lovely recipes there. Thank you. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and who knows, perhaps we will meet up in 2021 if you are down this way.

    1. Thanks Chel, We might be in Toowoomba next year given family movements down that way.It would be really nice to meet up. Wishing you a lovely Christmas.

  4. It's high holiday baking season here, too, so loads of nice baked goods are in our kitchen at the moment. Love what you've been baking! We really do need to make a fruit cake -- yours looks terrific. Thanks! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

    1. Thanks KR, a Christmas fruit cake has become a tradition in our family. This is a really nice one. Enjoy the holiday season and have a wonderful Christmas.

  5. wow all these wonderful cakes! your kitchen must have smelled/smelt? heavenly. i have been busy too making pineapple chutney, and starting off my Worcester sauce which has to sit for a fortnight before straining. And cooking for our neighbour, and just general cooking. And i made a batch of mustard for a local cafe ... Busy times. Thanks for being part of IMK. Is it possible for you to add your link on my post? Let me know if you need me to do it manually. have a marvellous festive season.

    1. Thanks Sherry, I must try making some Worcester sauce next year. We love it. Have a happy holiday season. Will try to find time to link up today. How exciting, making mustard for a cafe. A new line of goodies.

  6. Love those cake recipes which I am going to try over Christmas. Thank you for you lovely post they are always a joy with the yummy treats as a bonus. Cheers

    1. Thanks so much Bernie. By the way I haven't forgotten that I promised you my cumquat marmalade recipe. Just wondering how to do that. If you send me your email address via an email to me in the right hand column of my post I could send it to you when I get a chance. Happy cooking.

  7. Pauline, you've got some fine looking Christmas cakes recipes there. I love good plum pudding, but I've never made it. I'll have to look into that. Locky is a fine looking border collie. In my farming days I had border collies to help me with the sheep. They are a fine bread as a pet or working dog or both. You guys have a great Christmas...

    1. Thanks Ron, yes the border collies are beautiful dogs, Locky is a joy to have around. Eating plum pudding in your part of the world during a cold Christmas would be amazing. We have struggled through some very hot Christmas Days over the years to eat it, but boy it is so worth it.You all have a great Christmas too.

  8. All your Christmas cakes look amazing. We too have been encouraged to drink local wine as the industry took a huge knock during our booze ban. I am doing my best!

    1. Thanks Tandy, we are fortunate that both Australia and South Africa make very good wine. We can only do our best, ha, ha.

  9. Your cakes all look delicious. It's wonderful that you can have big gatherings safely this year: your government has been remarkable.

    be safe... mae at

    1. Thanks Mae, fingers crossed that here in Queensland we continue to be pretty much covid free. However we can't become complacent.Stay safe, Pauline


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