It feels like Christmas.

It feels like Christmas, but it’s not. Yet we’ve still been given the world’s greatest present.

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Introducing William Frank Haschka; Will for short.

Born: 10.44 am on the 8/8/2013, clocking in at 3.175 kg, or the equivalent of 7 1lb bags of flour.

He responds well to brief. It was just the day before that I’d said it was pumpkin time, that the party was over. We marked the close of ‘Forty Weeks of Feasting’ when he advanced to the size of a round, large root vegetable with a pumpkin and chickpea curry.

And wouldn’t you know it, at exactly 12.01 am on the 8/8/2013, just one minute past the end of his due date, labour started.

It  lived up to the name. I may get around to writing more of it at another time- at the moment my memories are streaked and murky. What I do know; for all my preparation of props; stress balls, inspirational photos for the walls of swimming in Dubrovnik and Bondi, nice smelling oils and energy boosting snacks, the only place I ventured was to a slate grey and pale blue cave inside my head . And it was there that I stayed for 10 hours and 43 minutes. Not many words were spoken. A few sips of Gatorade were taken and a few puffs on gas- though all that did was give me a few de ja vus to some more colourful nights out in my early 20s (oops).  And then he came out. Lucky for both us, we both walked away without a scratch.

His middle name comes from both sides of the family; all three of The Hungry One’s grandfather, father and my father share the moniker.

As for the first, it’s seemed clear for a while now that where there’s a Will, there’s a way.

We’re celebrating with salmon sashimi, big smiles and pink wine. There are some soft cheeses from the Second Mouse Cheese Company in Orange to be sampled- a kind gift from old friends.

Our first night at home involved chicken soup with creme fraiche and black pepper. Comfort in a bowl.

Our first morning together was marked by French Toast Croque Madames and the soundtrack of Mark Wilkinson’s new album; ‘Let the River Run

And now there’s cake.

As one of my bridesmaids and mothers of Will’s soon-to-be-best-buddies (no pressure boys) sagely told me a few weeks ago; ‘cake is crack to breastfeeding women’.

And these are a delight. There’s a sneaky lick of booze in the fruit. There’s dried fruit for sweet, plump give- not quite as much give as you’ll find on cheeks like these- but just enough.

There’s dark chocolate for its serotonin boosting properties. And they’re just the right size to eat one handed, while occasionally brushing a wayward crumb off a small head.

They’d be delightful for Christmas festivities; whether it’s in July or December. And they’re also perfect for those rare, shining days when you’ve been given a gift you can’t seem to to stop wrapping and unwrapping.

As I type this from my rocking chair, while my son naps beside me, my mug of tea mug may be drained, but you can be sure that the cup of joy over here  is running over.

xx

Tori and Will.

Mini Boozy Fruit Cakes

Makes 18

Equipment

1 x 12 hole muffin tin lined with patty cake liners. This batter makes enough to make 18 small cakes.

Shopping/foraging

3 cups of mixed dried fruit (I used a combination of raisins, currants, mixed peel, dried cherries and dried blueberries. Try to have at least four different types- but use what you like)
1/2 cup of booze (I used Pedro Ximenex sherry- but brandy/Cointreau/Whiskey would all work
60 grams of softened butter
2/3 cup of light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup of plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
Zest of one clementine/mandarin, or zest of half an orange
1 tbsp of marmalade
40 grams of dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling (optional)

Here’s how we roll

1) At least 6 hours, but preferably 24 hours before you want to make the cakes combine the fruit with the booze in a bowl. Place some foil over the top and leave to soak until the booze has been absorbed into the fruit.

2) Preheat the oven to 150C/300 F.

3) In a bowl combine the softened butter and the light brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

4) Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well between additions.

5) Sift in the flour, spices and zest. Fold gently to combine.

6) Tumble in the fruit and any residual syrup in the bottom of the bowl (there hopefully shouldn’t be much). Stir gently to combine.

 

7) Portion the batter out into the patty cakes, adding 1.5 tbsp of batter into each case.

8) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Repeat to use up all the batter.

9) While the cakes are still warm, brush the top with marmalade.

10) If you fancy, once the cakes have cooled drizzle the top with a little melted dark chocolate.

11) Serve with a cup of tea.