Summary: Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without a traditional Christmas Cake. The rich fruity cake, laced with brandy or sherry then coated with marzipan and white royal icing just makes the whole feeling of Christmas complete. It’s a touch of luxury that we can treat ourselves to once a year. However, you wouldn’t want to do it every day. This is one of the more time-consuming cake recipes to make. My own mother starts her preparation more than a full month before Christmas. At the least, you should take 3 days over it. I usually start a week before hand.
Ingredients for Christmas Cake
- 400 g Sultanas
- 250 g Raisins
- 110 g Currants
- 110 g Mixed peel
- 110 g Dried figs
- 110 g Pitted Prunes
- 110 g Dried Apricot
- 200 g Glacéed cherries
- 200 g Macadamia nuts or hazelnuts or almonds
- 150 ml Brandy or Sherry
- 1 Orange zest and juice
- 250 g Butter
- 200 g Dark brown sugar
- 300 g Flour
- 5 medium eggs
Instructions for Christmas Cake
Well before cooking, preferably the day before or the week before, collect all the dried fruit and nuts in a bowl. Chop them coarsely then add the brandy, orange zest and juice. Leave as long as possible for the fruit to soak up the brandy. The more brandy you get to soak into the fruit, the better you cake will be.
Just before you start on the cake you need to prepare your cake tin. This should be double lined and greased with parchment or greaseproof paper. I can’t stress enough – double lined. The sides of the paper should extend about an inch above the height of the tin itself. Also, you should wrap a page or two of newspaper around the outside of the tin and on the bottom of the tin. Use some string to hold it in place. This will all stop the cake sides from burning when cooking. Put your oven on to preheat at gas mark 2 or 150°C.
The actual cake mix needs to be put together in just the right order. If you have an electric hand mixer, this will be of great assistance. Leave the butter out to come to room temperature then mix it with the sugar. Beat the mix roughly so that the sugar and butter blend into a cream. Now half the eggs. Mix, and then add the other half the eggs. A single spoonful of flour might help the mix come together. The eggs, sugar and butter should be well mixed. Carefully fold the fruit mix into the cake. Don’t over stir or you will flatten the cake. Once the fruit is all coated, add a few spoons of flour. Fold in the four one spoon at a time till the mix becomes thick. Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin and smooth flat.
Cook in your oven at gas mark 2 or 150°C for 2 or 3 hours. Use a cocktail stick, poked into the centre of the cake, to test if is cooked all the way through. If the top starts to burn, reduce the temperature by 10°C and cover the top of the cake with some parchment paper. When finished, allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out.
Christmas cake is traditionally dressed with marzipan and royal icing. You could make your own (I do so) but most supermarkets stock some ready-made to roll and eat. Brush the outside of the cake with jam to make it sticky, then roll out the marzipan and place it over the cake. Trim off any extra pieces and Leave overnight to set. The next day, roll out the royal icing and place over the top of the marzipan. Keep your cake wrapped in cling film or tin foil, inside a large plastic tub. In this condition, the cake can last several weeks if not months.
Prep time: 24 hour Cook time: 3 hour
Number of servings (yield): 24 slices
Meal type: Desert
Culinary tradition: British
Christmas cake photo by tristanf
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