The 2003 summer has so far been blessed with the sunniest weather for
years and hopefully this will have given a major boost to that most
Scottish of outdoor events, Highland Games. Sadly the games, which are
held all over Scotland, have suffered a down-turn in crowds over the past
two years. The foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 caused the cancellation of
eight major games and the curtailment of many others. Last year's sodden
summer acted as a further deterrent to attendance at many games, indeed
forcing the cancellation of Newburgh games in Fife, not only once, but
twice. According to the Scottish Games Association, some five games have
gone out of existence in the last six years.
So this week the Food column would issue an appeal - Save Our Games.
Although we are nearing the end of the 2003 games season, there are at
least eleven games on The Flag Events page between now and 20 September,
from Glenfinnan to Bonar Bridge, which you can both support and enjoy.
Nowhere else can you enjoy such a colourful mixture of Highland Dancing,
Piping, Pipe Band Competitions, Running, Cycling, Heavy Events, Tug of
war, Hill Races and much more, History, culture, tradition and sport, all
in the one package, and all at a very reasonable admission price.
Aberdeenshire, the home of the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, with
the famous March of the Lonach Men, on 23 August, and perhaps, the most
well-known games of them all, The Braemar Gathering, on 6 September,
inspires this week's recipe. Richly flavoured with rum and cinnamon,
Aberdeenshire Rich Fruit Cake, fully lives up to its name!
Aberdeenshire Rich Fruit Cake
Ingredients : 1/2 lb (250 g) butter; 1/2 lb (250 g) caster sugar; 12 oz
(350 g) self-raising flour; 4-5 eggs; 1 1/4 (625 g) currants; 4 oz (125 g)
sultanas; 1/2 lb (250 g) mixed peel, finely chopped; 4 oz (125 g) glace
cherries, finely chopped; 1/2 oz (15 g) cinnamon; 2-3 fl oz (50-75 ml) rum
for mixing; 2-3 fl oz (50-75 ml) for soaking
Preheat the oven to 325 deg F/ 170 deg C/ gas mark 5
Warm the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Break the eggs into another
bowl, beat and warm so that they are the same temperature as the butter
and sugar. This is important since the fat is much less likely to separate
and curdle if the eggs are also warm when they are added. To mix, beat the
butter and sugar till they become light and creamy. Add the warmed egg
gradually and beat in. Sift the flour and cinnamon and stir in gently. Add
the currants, sultanas, peel and cherries and fold in. Mix to a fairly
stiff consistency with rum. Put into a lined 9 inch (23 cm) round cake
tin, level the top and bake for about three hours. To test - put in a
skewer and if ready it should come out clean. When cool soak the base with
rum. Decorate with marzipan and icing.