Festive Family Traditions

Every year I bake gingerbread houses for Ramona and other clients as well as for my boys. it used to be a heck of an undertaking until I got the best ever recipe from Guild! It's great fun for the children to decorate and count down the days until they can eat them!

I also have a taste for fruit cake and it's not something you eat all the time, so when the festive season rolls around I try to find an excuse to bake one. It's a large recipe, probably about a 3kg cake, or like I did this year, two pans, one for home and one for gifting...

I started the gingerbread on the cake with the town decorating about two years ago and think we'll continue this tradition for years to come, I love being creative and have my sights set on some pretty spectacular designs!

The boys (Bella still being too small) get to use left over dough to make whatever they want to decorate as they please and the results are often very entertaining! For example, without being asked what the blue dusting powder was or whether or not it could be used on the cookies, the boys went to town making some very blue cookies with concentrate powder!

Here's the recipe for Moist Christmas Cake, you don't need to make it months before the time and it works out great every time!

5 x 250ml fruit cake mix (750g)

125g pitted dates, finely chopped

300ml halved glace cherries (200ml)

125ml chopped pecan nuts or walnuts (50g)

125ml brandy

250g butter

250ml brown sugar (200g)

5 eggs

15ml smooth apricot jam

500ml cake flour (280g)

1ml salt

3ml ground cinnamon

3ml ground nutmeg

5ml mixed spice

5ml ground ginger

2ml ground cloves

3ml bicarbonate of soda

Mix cake mix, dates, cherries, nuts and brandy together and leave over night.

Cream butter and sugar and add eggs; beat well after each addition until light and fluffy. Add jam and fruit mixture.

Add sifted dry ingredients and mix well.

Line a 20cm pan with two sheets of baking paper or wax wrap and grease well. Flatten cake mix into the pan with the back of a spoon and bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees celcius (300 farenheit) for 2 and a quarter hours.

Allow to cool completely in the tin. Turn out and remove, sprinkle with brandy and cover with cling wrap. Store in a cool, dry place. Repeat this process once a month for the best ever results!

Generally one would cover your fruit cake with a thin coat of apricot jam (using a pastry brush) and a layer of marzipan (almond flavoured paste and then a layer of white fondant, this preserves the cake for ages! You can totally skip this, bake fresh and serve with ice cream (South African Christmas lunch must!) or a drizzle of fresh creme (or cream liqueuer!)

This time of year really holds a lot of fond family memories! Even though within our household from about the age of five, we no longer participated in Christmas festivities in the popular sense; it was still a special occasion at my grandparents house. If we went to visit our family in Windhoek, it would be a huge family occasion with loads of food and drink and laughter. For my own children, it has been a day to be together. to not worry about getting dressed and making beds or washing dishes (the sink would have to be emptied in advance) and just enjoying one another's company. When we have special guests, like we're anticipating this year with my Aunt coming to visit from Windhoek, I'll cook up a nice gammon (8 hours in the slow cooker, covered in coke. once cooked, score rind, paint with fruit jam and insert whole cloves here and there and roast until crispy) and serve with a variety of grains and vegetables, either hot or cold. Then there's that fruit cake......

Wishing you a very Merry Yule! I'll be back next year with the ladies from Romancing the Home to bring more inspiration and storytelling! Check out

Ramona at Ruffles and Rust with her behind the scenes from her TUIS/HOME Magazine garden and Alfresco lunch shoot for some inspiration for the upcoming New Year celebrations, which I usually spend decorating a cake for my son (New Year's baby).

Stacy from Sawdust and Highheels also has sweet family traditions with her children around baking as well as

Liz from Keep It French with a story straight from the heart!

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