Christmas Cake - Part One, Making the Cake
This is a classic Christmas cake with a twist- extra fruit and nuts, extra spice and extra brandy! Make it in advance if you can and then 'feed' it at intervals for a moist and delicious cake come the Festive Season. You can decorate this cake simply with dried fruits and nuts, or watch out for later posts on home-made marzipan and royal icing for a snowy masterpiece...
Makes one 15cm cake serving approx 6-8 people.
Glace Cherries, chopped 40g
Dried figs, chopped 55g
Soft dried apricots, chopped 55g
Brandy 6 tbspns, plus extra to 'feed'
Almonds, chopped 40g
Grated rinds of 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange.
Plain flour 110g
Salt, a pinch
Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Mixed spice 1/4 tsp
Ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp
Ground ginger 1/4tsp
Soft light brown sugar 55g
Soft dark brown sugar 55g
Black treacle 1 tsp
Unsalted butter 110g
Large eggs 2
The day before you wish to bake the cake, place all the dried fruit into a bowl, add the brandy, stir well and cover. Leave the fruit overnight to absorb the liquid and become plump and delicious.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 140C fan and grease and line a 15cm cake tin (base and sides) with a double layer of baking parchment.
Add the nuts and the orange and lemon rinds to the dried fruit and brandy and mix well. Sift the flour, salt and spices into a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs.
In yet another bowl (a lot of washing up with this one!) whisk the butter and sugars until light and creamy, about 5 minutes with an elecric whisk. Add the eggs very gradually, beating all the time. If the mixture looks like its about to curdle add a little of the flour and continue beating. When all the egg is incorporated beat in the flour, but be careful not to over mix- until it is just combined is enough. Alternatively fold in the flour by hand.
Using a large metal spoon fold in the fruit and nut mix, and the treacle.
Using the same spoon, ladle the mixture into your prepared tin and flatten the top with the back of the spoon. Cut a double circle of baking parchment to fit the top of the cake, make a small hole at the centre about the size of a 50p piece and lay this on top of the cake. This is necessary to stop the top overcooking during its long time in the oven.
Bake the cake for about 3 - 3 1/2 hours- its done when the top springs back when lightly touched or a skewer comes out almost clean. Cool it in the tin for half an hour before turning out into a rack to cool completely.
Using a skewer, make several holes in the top and the base of the cold cake and 'feed' it with several teaspoons of brandy, before wrapping in a double layer of parchment, and foil and then placing in an airtight tin. If you can, leave the cake to mature for at least a month, 'feeding' with more brandy on a weekly basis.
I'll be posting again in a few weeks with recipes and tips for marzipan and icing!
(This recipe is freely adapted from Delia Smith's Classic Christmas Cake)