I don't like to think about Christmas until at least the beginning of November. But my first sighting of a Christmas tree, a week before the end of October, reminded me that it's a good idea to buy suitable ingredients for traditional British Christmas food in good time. We only do a big supermarket shop about once a month now, so when we went towards the end of October, I bought some extra raisins, some currants, some glacé cherries, and even some veggie suet (since a quick glance at the ingredients reassured me that they've stopped using hydrogenated vegetable fat).
I put it all away in my cupboards, intending to make my Christmas cake within the first few days of November. As I always intend to. Last year, I did manage to bake the cake on November 7th, which I think is the earliest ever. One slight problem (or excuse?) with my favourite 'Delia' recipe is that the dried fruit and peel has to be soaked in brandy overnight before making the cake. So it was no good waking up on Saturday morning feeling inspired to make the cake (which did happen...) since I'd entirely forgotten about soaking the fruit the night before. And I didn't want to do it then, as I knew that Sunday would be rather busy.
I was fairly occupied on Monday, too, with the monthly meeting of the Larnaka Christian Writers' Group in the morning, and friends to dinner in the evening. But after the friends had gone, and the kitchen was tidy, I remembered. So I weighed the fruit and sprinkled some Cyprus brandy over it. This morning, up reasonably early, I made the cake. I remembered to use the oven in its non-fan setting. I decided to be really radical and forget about the instructions to wrap the tin in brown paper and string (partly because I couldn't find any string... and partly because I'm never sure what difference it can possibly make).
A wonderful smell emanated from the kitchen all morning, while I was chatting with adult friends, playing with smaller friends, reading stories, colouring... and after four hours I turned the oven off, leaving the cake inside for a further hour.
I'm going to leave the side grease-free paper around it when I wrap it in foil for the next few weeks... but here, anyway, is my now traditional annual Christmas cake photo: