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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe

 I finally got around to baking my Christmas Cakes with the soaked fruit. This Christmas Fruit Cake is a no-fuss traditional recipe. You only need to ensure that you have prepped your ingredients, and set them out before you begin.

Also make sure your tins are lined with parchment or baking sheets, greased well, and then packed with 2-3 layers of newspaper on the outside walls. Knot a string around them to ensure that they don't slip out of place and cause a disaster in the kitchen!

So if you are ready, here is the recipe.

2 cups demerara sugar
2 cups butter
4 large eggs or 6 small ones
Rind and juice of 2 lemons
Rind and juice of 2 oranges
2.5 cups plain flour
0.5 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon cinammon powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups of soaked Christmas Fruit
1 cup of chopped mixed nuts
2 tablespoons rum or whiskey or brandy
Caramel made with 1 cup of sugar melted, then mixed gently with 4 tablespoons of water.
2 tsp instant coffee
2 - 3 sticks of home made orange peel

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together - flour, cocoa, garam masala powder, cinammon powder, nutmeg powder, baking powder.
  2. Mix the nuts in 2 tablespoons of flour and keep aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Gently add the eggs in one at a time, ensuring that they are blended in.
  5. Dissolve the instant coffee powder in the cooled caramel
  6. Add it to the batter along with the vanilla essence.
  7. Add the brandy, and mix well.
  8. Add the citrus rinds and juices
  9. Carefully fold in the soaked Christmas fruit and orange peel chopped into bits. When it is mixed well, add the nuts and fold gently.
  10. Pour batter into prepared tins, and bake at 180 degrees for 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  11. When cool, wrap it in cling wrap, and then with a layer of foil.

Decorate it if you are giving it away. Store in fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting so that you can cut it evenly without crumbs. We couldn't wait to taste it, so we cut it and conveniently blamed the missing piece on dear ol' Santa!

Wishing my dear readers a Merry Christmas!

Come join a set of fabulous bloggers sharing their Christmas moments - Easy Holiday Crafts, DIY ideas, Recipes , Decor ideas and book recommendations with you .

Starting from today till Christmas and beyond, each one of us will be writing a post related to Christmas.
Participating blogs
ArtsyCraftsyMom - munniofalltrades - hfareensspace - roohiscollections - hellomommyhood - attachedmoms - totschooltotallyawesome - Themomviews - -
rugsoflife - oneandahalfminutes - shishuworld - ruskandtea - aspoonfullofideas - orangekitchens - obsessivemom - rachnaparmar - parentingmantras -
onboardthemommyship - kwikdekoblog - thekeybunch - momzspace - whatscookingmom - coloursdekor - happypeopleevents - fantastic-feathers - beingzoesmom

So sit back, relax and check out all the fabulous Christmas Bonanza posts from our participating blogs in the linky. Support us by sharing our posts using the hash tag #ChristmasBonanza

This Linky is for participating blogs only, but We would love to see your Christmas Crafts too. Come and link up your Christmas post at

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Decking up the Home for Christmas: A Guest Post by Pallavi Rao

Today, we will hop over to my ex-colleague Pallavi Rao's home, which is dressed up in Holiday finery. You will love the little DIYs and personal touches that she has incorporated into her decor. Pallavi is a lovely hostess, so grab a mug of your favorite winter drink, and relax while she takes you on a virtual tour around her home!  Over to Pallavi! :)

Christmas is within pudding-sniffing distance, work is in low gear and that means it’s time to bring out the tree! We spent last weekend at home, on that favorite annual ritual of ours...unpacking the ornaments, pulling out tinsel and bringing some Christmas cheer home.

I love candles, so I ordered some 6” red pillar candles off Amazon from Tvish Candles. The tea lights I got on are apple-cinnamon scented - always reminds me of Christmas. Tumble a few ornaments around them in a glass bowl or plate to make a little theme corner or table centerpiece.

Get a nativity scene together. I find the best ones can be found near any of the larger churches in the neighborhood (and not the department store!). It is also where I snag little knick-knacks like snow globes or ornaments to give away. We got real hay from our veggie vendor, but shred some brown kite paper for a similar effect.

Nothing says Christmas like a tree laden with baubles and a stash of presents waiting to be opened. Landmark has some lovely Christmas gift labels which we used for our presents.

I have a lot of fun with Christmas themed quotes and rhymes which I slip into photo frames.

Having indulged the giant kid in me, I felt my little one needed her space to experiment too. She strung ornaments and lights on her room door and curtain rail and put cups full of spare ornaments to play with at her table.

She’s big on Dr Seuss these days, so we hung some glittery Cat in the Hat paper ornaments up between lights.

My bookworm loves this advent calendar based on Eric Carle’s Dream Snow (had to bring it in from Amazon UK). But next year, I plan to make my own using designs like this brown and red envelope Advent calendar or these.

Now all that’s left to do is bake that Christmas cake and weigh the table down with an abundance of warming food to welcome home family and friends. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thank you Pallavi. We love the effort you and your little one have put into your Christmas decor. It was a pleasure having you over! 

Pallavi has very generously offered to share her printable quote files. So if you would like them, leave a comment and we can send them over to you.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Giving:There is goodness in giving small, giving often

A happy, confident school kid, Basava stays at a hostel and has
access to nutritious meals every day! Read his story here
It's the season of Christmas, and a time to share, give and feel joyful! I am a strong believer in the fact that opportunities to give are everywhere. And instead of waiting for big ways to give, the goodness of small-giving and often-giving are unbeatable! It's very doable, and everyone from the smallest amongst us (in terms of wealth) and the biggest amongst us can find joy in practicing this!

Today, I am speaking about a very pertinent problem. Why should Indian children have to choose between square meals and an education? Aren't all children entitled to both?It is their birthright, and sadly hundreds of our country's children are deprived of it.

Akshaya Patra is an not-for-profit organization that has done much to remove these horrible choices. A child should have both food and education, and Akshaya Patra's tagline is Unlimited Food for Education.By implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Government and Government aided schools, Akshaya Patra aims to fight not only hunger but also to bring children to school. Isn't that a beautiful mission to have?

Akshaya Patra reaches out to 1.4 million children every day of school and is committed to its mission of reaching 5 million children by 2020. The organization serves in Government and Government aided schools across India, mainly targeting children from economically disadvantaged households. With array of nutritious food on the menu, many children get attracted to school, enroll themselves and attend school regularly. For many children, who’d have to work for a square meal every day, the food comes as a boon not only because they can satiate their hunger but also because they get an opportunity to access education.

A happy, healthy childhood and education for all!

Apart from what this lovely organization is doing, I think we can all do a little something to feed our country's poor. Little drops make an ocean, and little morsels can give nourishment to a little child! What solutions do you my readers have to ensure that our country's kids get an education as well as the required nutrition for their overall growth and development?

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda because for this post
BlogAdda will sponsor meals for an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year! To see how you can get involved with Akshaya Patra, click here.

Visit the Akshaya Patra website and learn more about this beautiful mission.
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: Railonama by Anupama Sharma

Railonama is a collection of short stories put together by Anupama Sharma. The stories are warm and poignant, and anyone who has traveled by train in India can relate to the experiences narrated in this book. Short stories with their quick narratives are always interesting, and this book was no different! 

Anupama Sharma has done a commendable job curating the stories – it must have been a mountainous task sifting through the submissions, because these were memories of not just anything, they were memories of the Indian Railways touching the lives of people from all walks of life! The variety and humor, insights and lessons, even romance had me hooked, sometimes eliciting smiles, other times leaving me with a sense of wonder or with tears in my eyes!

Most of the stories were well-written, and in every story, I was able to catch the essence of the emotion or event. Barring a few typos and grammatical errors in a couple of stories (I am presuming they might have been last minute inclusions that couldn't be edited as thoroughly as the others), the presentation is brilliant! I am amazed that Sharma has managed to put 45 stories into this collection, and it’s a job very well done indeed!

I think I loved the food stories best, because food is an integral part of my train journeys, every time! While fellow-blogger Roshan Radhakrishnan’s story about the boy with the chocolate ├ęclairs made me smile indulgently, Sharada Balasubramanian’s “From Chennai to Punjab” spoke about the intrinsically Indian virtue of sharing food with strangers. Anupama Sharma’s “A slice of apple” tells the story about the selfless Indian who didn't look too well off. He had just one apple, but he cut it into as many slices as he could so as to feed his co-passengers in a stranded train.

Most stories have either good or bad endings, but you will love the mixed endings in “The castaway” by Vibha Batra and “Blue Hawai Chappals” by Yogesh Sharma! All good books need an element of romance, and the beautiful love stories that originated because of train journeys like “Jab we Met” by     Rohit Khanduri, and “The Romance of the Mountain Railway” by Susmita Bhattacharya are beautiful and true love stories.

Would I recommend this book to you? Absolutely, especially if you are embarking on a train journey soon! I enjoyed this book thoroughly, but to read it when actually traveling in a train – my, that would be grand! I think this is a book that has found a place in my Christmas gifting list quite easily!

As Sharada Balasubramanian says in this very book, “The experience of traveling in Indian trains is unique in itself. You lose sense of time, place, language, and yet you are never alienated. The friends you make take care of that!” I think she has nailed it! This is the essence of train travel in India, and you will find it in each story in this lovely book!

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

{Curated Decor Collection} Kedgree by Karishma Banerji Madan

I am a big fan of curated collections, and today I stumbled upon a company that does just that! Kedgree was born out of its founder Karishma Banerji's passion for all things beautiful. The word Kedgree is culled from 'Kedgeree' the British name for Kichadi (Indian), a delicate blend of grains and colorful spices that come together to deliver the perfect flavor, one that satisfies the palette and satiates the soul.
Karishma Banerji Madan
The vibrant young lady who hails from Kolkata but currently lives in Korea, says, "I have always loved art, antiques and handicrafts and it was my dream to share my curated collections with a global audience, and more importantly, to narrate the stories of those who craft these products and share the history and culture associated with these objects." Karishma believes that the best in home decor comes out when you blend curios and collectibles from across the world and infuse vibrance and color into your home from different cultures to deliver the perfect fusion.

Karishma explained to me that true to its name, Kedgree offers decor treasures from across the globe. The effort is to curate the very best from the actual artist herself and the desire is to share the results of her skill, toil and labor with people who would appreciate all that goes into developing the ‘character' of the object of art in question, through the platform that is ‘Kedgree'. She also spoke about Kedgree's vintage collection which includes rare and exclusive items that are procured from connoisseurs of art and antiques in India who have been collecting these artifacts for many decades.

Kedgree is currently hosting some beautiful Korean ceramics on their FB page. Korean pottery is one of the country’s finest artistic achievements and Kedgree is proud to be showcasing this exclusive collection.
This form of art traces back to the Goryeo dynasty and potters have been refining their skills in kilns since the 12th century. The outcome is understated elegance, classy colors and sophisticated products. At this event, you can look forward to porcelain and celadon table lamps, vases, tea-ware, vases and more!

Collections from Kedgree ongoing Korean Ceramics event

Where to buy Kedgree?
 I loved the collection Karishma has curated, especially that rose-toned cup and saucer! What caught your eye?

View or buy Kedgree's entire range of products on their Facebook page.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Cake Prep {Fruit Soak and Candied Peel}

candied peel with brass matsya
With a foot sprain rendering me immobile, I suddenly have a lot of time at my disposal. So I soaked my fruits for the Christmas cake, and I am sharing the recipe here. Remember to buy only good quality fruit, and buy it fresh.

I also managed to make some Candied Peel from  Neha Mathur's beautiful Candied Peel recipe. While I don't add candied peel to my fruit soak, I do add it to my Christmas Cake. But there's a reason I like to make this Candied Peel just before I soak the fruits. The sugar syrup that remains from the candy peel making-process using the above recipe has a rich orange flavor, and is just perfect to add to your fruit soak!

Above and right are pictures of the candied peel I made with desi loose jacket oranges. Neha used mandarins in her recipe, but I prefer to use locally-grown stuff whenever possible, so I opted for these oranges. If you want the bright orange color, then you could opt for the mandarins too!The kids loved the candied peel, and I noticed several missing when I left them out to dry on the balcony ;)

Now for the fruit soak. Here's the recipe.

Christmas Cake Fruit Soak

250g golden raisins
500g black currant
100g dried figs, chopped
500g dates, deseeded and chopped
200g tuttifruti

Sugar Syrup
 I used the leftover syrup from Neha's Candied Orange Peel Recipe {link is at the top of this page}

Spice Mix/ Spices
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cloves, powdered
3 tablespoons of powdered cinnamon

5 nutmeg strands
5 saffron strands
1 fat stick of cinnamon
1 bayleaf

Rum or brandy, enough to cover the fruit

-A clean container big enough to store all this fruit!
-Clean, sanitized hands
-Sanitized cutting board and knife
-A clean work space
-A long wooden spatula

So that's the complete list of ingredients for my fruit soak. What? No nuts? Nope! I love nuts in my Christmas Cake, but adding them too early makes them too soft. I prefer to add them in just a couple of days before I bake the cake. Soak about 700 grams of nuts of your choice a couple of days before you bake your cake.
stir with a clean wooden spatula

1. Measure out all the ingredients. De-seed dates and pick the stems off the fruit.
2. If fruit sizes are too big (for instance dates and apricots), use a sharp knife and cut them into tiny bits. I like to leave the currants, raisins and sultanas whole.
2. Use a small mixing bowl, and gently add small quantities of each fruit to it, hand mix it all in. Then add it to the final container.
3. Mix in the spice powder with the orange syrup.
4. When you have a layer of fruit in your soaking container, lightly drizzle it with the spiced sugar syrup.
5.Continue till all the fruit and syrup is finished.
6. Now pour the alcohol in until it soaks the fruit completely. Add the whole spices. Don't stir today.
7. Close the container and let it rest in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
8. From tomorrow, you will use a clean wooden spatula to give it a good stir once a day for a week.
9. From the second week, you may stir it just once a week, until it is time for you to bake your cake.
this is how the fruits looked on day 2

I always taste a bit before each stir - I recommend you do's a lovely experience to taste that fruit as it matures :) and give yourself some free tipsy for the day ;)

That's it folks! Use this in the quantities demanded for your Christmas cake recipe and you will love the flavor and texture, I promise!

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Who writes this blog?

Hi ! I'm Sharon.

I am so glad you are here visiting. The Keybunch is primarily a decor blog, but it's lovingly peppered with lifestyle and food posts.

I am most inspired by simple spaces that have evolved, or speak of their owner's creativity. I also adore old homes and antiques, possibly because I am from Mangalore, and my decor sensibilities are highly influenced by the colonial style of architecture that I was exposed to, growing up.

Do spend some time reading my posts. I have a search feature right at the top, that lets you search within this blog. I have also made separate drop down lists of my home tours, book reviews and the carnivals that we have hosted here.

I would love to hear from you. Email me your home pics, or DIY ideas to

Want to know me better? Click here

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