Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas - Liz Fielding

Christmas, when I was a child, always started with the cake. My mother was the world’s best cook and each year, despite the fact that she had a full time job, she used to take orders for her Christmas cake. The kind of cake she baked, heavy with fruit, nuts and spices, took all day to make and for weeks before the big day every Friday evening I used to help her weigh and wash the dried fruit that had to be perfectly dry before being added to the creamed mixture. On Saturday morning I was back on the scales and she creamed the butter and sugar by hand using a wooden spoon – no snappy hand held electric whisks back then. I used to spell her with that, too and I can still remember how it made my arm ache, but I loved that whole “being with Mum” thing. Helping. Years later my daughter used to do the same with me (although I had the electric whisk!).

The other memory is of my Dad sitting on the living room floor wrapping Christmas gifts for the aunts and uncles – I had loads of both. I was in charge of the tape and scissors, delivering the perfect length at the right time. He was meticulous. Neat corners, a double fold along the edge of the paper, fancy ribbons. Everything I know about wrapping a parcel I learned by watching him.

Shared moments. Magic memories.

Liz writes fun, flirty and deeply emotional books for Harlequin Romance. You’ll find her at, on Facebook and tweeting @lizfielding. Look out for Tempted by Trouble, “the one with ice cream”, next summer.
Liz has kindly sent Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto for the prize box - hooray! To enter, send me an e-mail with the clue CHRISTMAS CAKE in the subject line.  One entry per day, please. I'll be drawing on the 13 December.


  1. Thanks, Liz. I look forward to your Christmas stories each season.

    Ah, Christmas cake is fruit cake here. So maligned but oh so good! We used to wait for our grandmother's Christmas box every year. It was full of fruitcake, fruitcake cookies and date nut pinwheels. Yum.

    Peace, Julie

  2. Hi Julie

    Fruit cake is so special. And lasts forever. My m-i-l worked at a "big house" when she was a girl - Sir Robert Peel, descendant of the founder of the police force - and they used to make the Christmas cake, puddings and mince meat in December, put them into store and bring down the ones they'd made the year before. Well matured!

  3. Anonymous11:42 a.m.

    Kaelee comments

    Christmas cake love it or hate it.I personally love it.

    My mom made the best dark fruit cake ever. My brother's birthday on November 22nd was the official taste testing of the new batch of fruitcake or if he was really lucky the last cake of the years before. Yes dark cake improves with aging.

    I remember my mom digging out her biggest bowl and putting all the fruit to soak in brandy. Every day for about a week she would check to see if the brandy she added had been sucked up by the dried fruit. Then she would add more until the fruit wouldn't absorb anymore. Then it was time to get out the butter and sugar and one dozen eggs. Anyone around got their turn creaming the ingredients.

    She made a great light fruitcake as well but these were eaten within a short period of time as they didn't keep as well. There were only two or three cakes in the batch instead of the six dark cakes she made. She had two nests of three cake pans ~ one round and one square. Getting them into the oven was a challenge. When we switched from coal to gas for our stove she had to adjust her cake timing. The old toothpick in the middle would tell you if the cake was baked. The smell in the house was heavenly. Thanks for helping me recall this.

  4. My dad is a huge fan of fruit cake but we've never made it from scratch - we've always bought Dad is also a good present not so much...though I continue to try to get better at it. Great holiday memories

  5. Thanks for your great memories. I use to wrap alot like that, but somewhere along the road life is so hectic, I use Christmas boxes now:)

    My husband's sister makes us a fruitcake every Christmas and sends it to us. She was 71 this year and still baking strong:):)

  6. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for sharing your christmas memories. My mum use to make dark fruit cake for christmas for us all and also to give away to neighbours. Around christmas time, all customers in my dad's shop would be receiving cakes, made by her. Reading your story dragged that memory up. This year is sixteen years she's no more.

    Now we just buy boxes of christmas cakes. I don't know from where the above came up from after so many years. Nostalgic.

  7. Our Christmas Cake was Christmas cookies. There was a type of peanut buter whirl that we all argued over. I have tried making them but my grandmother made them so much better than I can.
    debby236 at att dot net.