(My grandparents having a wonderful sixties/seventies christmas)
I'm kicking off the festivities with cake and pudding which should both, in theory, be prepared well in advance. My mum always started her christmas cake preparation in October so for no other reason I do too. I think we always bought a christmas pudding when I was a child as my mum had had her fill of dried fruits after making about 12 christmas cakes every year as gifts. Craziness! I make one, and then wish I had made twelve. It tastes so good!
(it is impossible to make dried fruit look attractive)
I always make my own cake and pudding because as far as I'm concerned currants, mixed peel and glacé cherries are evil and do not belong anywhere near my happy festive time (.and for the record the same goes for mince pies. Many a mince pie experience has been ruined by a chunk of hard, bitter peel. Don't do it! Just no). I use a combination of sultanas, apricots, prunes and on occasions dried cherries and blueberries. I've had my dried fruits soaking in a selection of alcohols for about a month now (but even a few days will do and I once left them soaking for a year by accident and very good they were too). It doesn't have to be alcohol some sort of tart fruit juice will work. I've used a fresh cherry and red grape juice before and that was very good. try and make sure it's something a bit tart though as otherwise it will all be disgustingly sweet. Me? I tend to use a lot of sherry because that's what my mum used…in everything festive now I come to think of it. Cake, pudding AND the trifle. Maybe that's why christmas was so jolly when I was a child?
(The fruit cake recipe I use comes from The Vegan Cookbook (found under celebration cake) but really i've found that any fruit cake recipe works just leave out the eggs and make usual substitutions. For the pudding i use this recipe (scroll down) for quantities only and change the fruit.)