Alle Jahre wieder
kommt das Christuskind
auf die Erde nieder,
wo wir Menschen sind.
Kehrt mit seinem Segen
ein in jedes Haus,
geht auf allen Wegen
mit uns ein und aus.
Steht auch mir zur Seite
still und unerkannt,
dass es treu mich leite
an der lieben Hand.
Sagt den Menschen allen,
dass ein Vater ist,
dem sie wohlgefallen,
der sie nicht vergisst.
Aus der Himmel ferne,
wo die Englein sind,
schaut doch Gott so gerne
her auf jedes Kind.
Alle Jahre wieder
Lyrics by Johann Wilhelm Hey (1837) set to music by Friedrich Silcher
Christmas in Vienna – pre 1972
Every year, without fail, I have been crating Christmas cakes and other goodies for the holiday season. What started many decades ago in my grandmothers kitchen, became a profession and then a vocation … and ultimately a lifestyle.
The importance of Christmas as religious fixture in our annual calendar may have been gone. The waiting and anxiety, the fascination of the child may have been diminished.
But the anticipation of the sweet treats, the fruits and nuts, spices and syrups … the composition of flavours and textures into a loaf of cake … or into the delicate structure of a biscuit. The ever returning ritual of creation, the mixing and baking, icing and decoration …
There is a satisfaction in the creation. A relieve in the familiar and the ritual. We all have our Christmas Cake, our go to cake of this season. I am sharing here a recipe that has been modified and re-formulated a few times. I trust you will find comfort in trying, and maybe make it your own.
An Orangie Christmas Fruit Cake
- 225 g dried Turkish Figs
- 550 g dried currants
- 200 g prunes
- 200 g raisins
- 150 g dried apricots
- 250 g candied orange peel
- 200 ml Grand Marnier
- 275 g salted butter
- ½ tsp. fleur de sel
- 275 g dark brown sugar
- zest of 2 oranges
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1 lemon
- 6 pc whole eggs
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp. cloves powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp. ginger powder
- 125 g all-purpose flour
- 150 g cake flour
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 100 g almond powder
- 200 g chopped walnuts
- 100 g shelled and peeled pistachios
- 1 tbsp. black honey (the good kind (!))
- Quarter the figs and dried apricots, half the prunes and mix with the rest of the dried fruits in a large bowl
- Pour over the Grand Marnier and mix well, cover with plastic film, and let soak over night
- Next day, pre-heat the oven to 140 ºC
- In a mixing bowl combine the dark brown sugar, salted butter, fleur de sel, orange- and lemon zest
- Mix with your favorite kitchen mixer until creamy
- Add the eggs one by one, scrape down the sides after each egg
- In a separate bowl sift the flour, the spices and baking powder
- Once the butter mixture is creamy add on top of the fruit mixture.
- Add the remaining ingredients
- Mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated
- Line the bottom of a 20 cm cake pan with baking paper, and brush lightly with butter
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins
- Put in the oven and pour a glass of water onto the baking tray holding your cakes to generate a little steam
- Bake for about 2½ hours at 140 ºC, until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Let the cake cool completely
- Wrap the cake in plastic foil and store over night in a cool place
- Sprinkle the cake with 3 tbsp. of your favourite Brandy
- Re-wrap the cake and store for a week, and sprinkle again with 3 tbsp. of Brandy
- Brush with hot orange marmalade
- Decorate the cake with nuts and dried fruit and brush with orange marmalade again