FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

Oh, it is most certainly the season to be jolly now. And roly-poly from all that Christmassy food and drink. But after being good all year why not cut loose in December? Perhaps even go a little bit fruity?MichelleD

Which is what my Friday Feast guest this week is doing. But lovely Australian romance author Michelle Douglas isn’t swearing. No, no, no! As with all our fabulous Feasty guests, she’s sharing. Wonderful things, like her latest release, The Nanny Who Saved Christmas.

Take a look!

 

THE NANNY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS

 

9781743068397-1212 SW NANNY WHO SAVED XMAS

This Christmas, Nicola McGillroy will:

1. Be a great nanny to Cade Hindmarsh’s two adorable little girls, and give them the best Christmas they’ve had since their mother left.

2. Enter into the Christmas spirit and forget the fact she should have been planning her own wedding right now.

3. Keep a straight head in her attraction to her gorgeous off-limits boss… Surely this is just a rebound thing and not true love—for both of them?

 

 

Doesn’t that sound gorgeous? A perfect heart-warming Christmas read. And it’s available right now from your local chain store, as well as online in paperback or ebook format from Mills & Boon Australia or Harlequin.com, Booktopia, Amazon, Bookdepository, Barnes and Noble and many other places. So get a clickety-clicking!

All bought? That’s the Christmas spirit. Now as reward you can have Michelle!

 

A Fruity Feast

 

When I confided to an old work colleague that I thought making a fruitcake would be hard, she handed me this recipe and ordered me to give it a go. I did. And now I’ve been making it for… Well, I had to sit down and work it out, but it must be twenty years. Twenty years! It only feels like six or seven…I’d even believe ten, but twenty? Sheesh.

It must be said, though, that at the time I was not an experienced cook. So this particular recipe has, umm…gone through some trial and error.

Error #1: Look at the size of that ingredient list. There’s a kilo of fruit there for a start. How on earth did I think I was ever going to fit all of that in a normal sized mixing bowl? The first time I made this I had to transfer the mixture halfway through to the stockpot I use for making soup. It’s the only thing I had that was big enough (other than the blanket box and even I wasn’t that inexperienced).Fruit

Oh, and the painstakingly prepared cake tin? Yep, it was washed up and put back in the cupboard. That first year my Christmas cake was baked in a very large glass casserole dish. Until a couple of years ago I continued to employ the stockpot for mixing—after all, it had deputised most ably—but I did go out and buy a big cake tin for the next year.

Error #2: The first time I made this the DH and I had friends over that evening. With much expectation in my heart, I served us all up a slice (with the appropriate amount of fanfare, of course). Cue disappointment. It was bleh. I couldn’t believe I’d gone to so much trouble for this! Still, I cut it up into four manageable-sized portions and stored it in the pantry in trusty Tupperware containers. OMG! Storing this for a fortnight (though a month is better) makes so much difference. Really truly. It went from bleh to stunning. Really truly. I’m not joking. I couldn’t believe it.

Error #3: A few years ago I absent-mindedly misread the recipe. I put in 2 ½ cups of brown sugar (the flour amount) instead of 1 2/3 cups. I’d become blasé. After all, I’d been making this cake for 6 or 7 (or 15!) years by now and I was an old hand, wasn’t I? But guess what? It still tasted great. Thank heavens as this is one of the DH’s all-time favourite things in the world. He looks forward to the annual Christmas cake with the fervour of every ding-dong merrily on high you’ve ever heard. For him, Christmas is this Christmas cake.

The recipe makes four more than adequate sized squares. My DH hates sharing this with anyone. So he gets to decide the fate of 2 squares, and I decide the fate of the other two. 🙂

Oh, and something else I’ve learned along the way. Very few things beat nibbling homemade fruitcake late on Christmas night with a glass of red in hand (or whatever happens to be your poison) whilst congratulating yourself on getting through yet another crazy Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Rich Fruit Cake

 

Fruitcake

1kg fruit

1 cup chopped pecans (the recipe asks for brazil nuts, but I couldn’t find them the first year so I substituted pecans and they’ve done so well I haven’t looked back)

¾ cup of brandy or orange juice (I ALWAYS use brandy J)

250g butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla essence

1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

5 eggs

2 tsp grated orange rind

¼ cup of orange juice

2 Tbsp strawberry jam

2 ½ cups of plain flour

1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

¼ cup of brandy or apple juice extra (I ALWAYS use brandy J)

Combine fruit and nuts in a bowl, pour brandy over top, cover and stand overnight.

Grease a deep 20cm square cake pan and line with 3 layers of greaseproof paper. Bring paper about 5cm above top edges of the pan.

Beat butter, essence and sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating only until combined between each addition.

Stir in rind, juice and jam, and then stir in sifted dry ingredients in 2 batches.

Stir in fruit mixture and mix well.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared cake tin. Bake in slow oven (150C) for approximately 3 hours (test with a skewer—it’s cooked if it comes out clean). Brush top of cake evenly with extra brandy. Cover with foil and let cool in pan overnight.

 

Thanks, Michelle, and wow. How easy does that sound? A perfect cake for the Christmas rush while keeping nicely in the seasonal spirit.

So what keeps you in the seasonal spirit? For me it’s cherries and fruit mince tarts, and that sweet moment in a shop when I catch a little-un fretfully asking mum or dad whether Santa will make it to their house and I just can’t help thinking how cute it all is. What about you? Is it that first sip of totally inappropriate for the weather eggnog? The dreaded work Christmas party? That glittery angel on the Christmas tree or spotting a beautifully made Nativity? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle and her many wonderful romances, please visit her website.

 

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

  1. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Hi Cathryn and Michelle,
    I don’t think there’s a recipe on earth that could make me love Christmas cake or even Christmas pudding. But I love these kinds of Christmas rituals; making THE cake, making THE pudding. Congratulations on the release of The Nanny Who Saved Christmas, Michelle. I do love a Christmas themed story.

  2. Avatarmichelle douglas

    Hi Louise, lovely to see you here. I think you’re onto something. The ritual of making the Christmas cake really does make me feel it’s Christmas-time. 🙂 I’ve never thought of it that way before!

    As for the taste of Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. It’s definitely an acquired one, but unfortunately for my waistline it’s one I’ve acquired with gusto! 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      I’m with you, Michelle, can’t get enough of that fruity goodness, especially fruit mince pies. Weird, because I couldn’t stand them as a kid.

      That’s such a nice point about the ritual, Louise. I love things like that. Tradition can be so comforting.

  3. Avataranniewest

    Michelle, thanks for sharing your recipe. I’m a fruit cake fan and I made a couple of Christmas cakes a few weeks ago for the family and am so looking forward to slicing into it. I rather enjoy the preparation for the silly season, or at least some of it, especially if I happen to find what I think are the perfect presents for family or friends. Then there’s the joy of making gingerbread and shortbread and, a recent fave, German cinnamon stars (utterly scrumptious). And I love being able to live off leftovers for days. Sigh. It takes the stress off those few days when we get to unwind.

    I’ve got your Nanny Who Saved Christmas beside my bed right now, waiting for some down time around Christmas to read it. Can’t wait!

    1. AvatarMichelle

      Hi Annie, now I have your recipe for lemon shortbread and it is definitely getting a trial this year, but it has to be said that those cinnamon stars sound truly divine!

      I love present shopping too — even with the shops being so hectic. There’s such a sense of triumph when you find the perfect present! 🙂

      P.S. I hope you enjoy The Nanny

  4. AvatarHelene Young

    Yummmoooo! Thanks, ladies, I was in need of fool proof quick and easy Christmas cake. I’ll report back on the final product!

    Mangoes are the Christmas trigger here in NQ. The trees start to bend with the weight of them, the bats gather in noisy enclaves to feast themselves silly and we bring lush Bowen mangoes home by the tray full. Love it!

    1. AvatarMichelle

      Helene, I hope you love it as much as I do. I made our cake halfway through November and cut into the first square last night — it was soooo good! 🙂

      Mangoes? Sigh, yum!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        You’ll have to let us know how you go with the cake, Helene. I love how easy it sounds. Wish I could make it too, but with a house move coming up I’m trying to clean out the cupboards.

        Enjoy those mangoes!

  5. AvatarJuanita Kees

    What a gorgeous cover, Michelle! The perfect Christmas cover. Sounds like a lovely read for after Christmas lunch when everyone is lazing around with bellies full of Christmas fare and your delicious fruit cake.
    I’m banned from making fruit cake at Christmas time. Hubby says I’m nutty enough and even the fire department need a break on a Christmas day 🙂
    What I love about Christmas is walking into shopping centres and hearing the Salvation Army Band playing Christmas Carols. It sends tingles up my spine.

    1. Avatarmichelle douglas

      Juanita, you made me snort my lemonade with your fireman comment! I hope it stays fire free in the Kees household this Christmas. 😉

      Oh, the Salvation Army Band! Yes, yes! Tingles + hair on back on neck shivering in the nicest possible way when they play carols. It really does seem like Christmas then, doesn’t it.

      P.S. Yes, I think the cover fairy has been very good to me this Christmas

    1. Avatarmichelle douglas

      Anne, what a good daughter you are! I’ve offered to make the DH fruitcake for his birthday, but I think he enjoys the once a year ritual (and it is hard to make and store without him finding it :-)). I hope you and your dad get the time to enjoy a lovely leisurely slice of fruitcake this Christmas!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        That was a nice treat for your dad, Anne. I bet he appreciated (and enjoyed) that fruitcake very much. There’s something special and meaningful about food hand made with love.