If you only make one cake a year, it has to be a Christmas Cake. It is the perfect activity to do with the family and a homemade Christmas Cake can’t be beaten.
Don’t be put off thinking they are complicated, it’s true there are a lot of steps but follow them one at a time and it’s actually a very simple cake to make.
This particular recipe is good as you don’t need to mature it for weeks or months, made 2-3 weeks before will still be perfect, this is due to the dried fruit being pre-soaked in the alcohol before baking.
50g Glace Cherries
4 Tablespoons of brandy (plus extra for the cook)
225g Plain Flour
Quarter teaspoon of mixed spice
225g Salted Butter
225g Soft Brown Sugar
4 Large Eggs
50g Ground Almonds
1 Level dessertspoon of black treacle
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
The day before you would like to bake your cake, soak the sultanas, currants, raisins and cherries (halved) in the brandy, cover and stir occasionally. The dried fruit will absorb the brandy and become plump and juicy.
The next day pre heat your oven to 140c
Line the base and sides of a 7″ tin with baking paper and wrap some around the outside of the tin too and secure with string, this will stop it burning during a long cooking process, you can also place newspaper on the oven shelf then place your cake to bake on top to give the bottom extra protection from burning.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the beaten eggs a little at a time and beat, the mixture will split but as soon as you add the flour it all works out, so don’t panic.
Fold in the flour and spices.
Add the black treacle and mix thorougly.
Grate the lemon & orange zest into the bowl containing the fruit.
Add the ground almonds to the dried fruit and stir, this will coat the fruit and stop it sinking to the bottom.
Add the fruit to the rest of the cake mixture and stir.
Pour into your tin, it will look a lot of mixture, but a fruitcake doesn’t rise much so the height it goes in the oven is pretty similar to end result.
Halfway through baking, place a disc of baking paper on top to stop it burning.
Cook between 3.5-4 hours but it is highly dependent on your oven. To test stick a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean it is cooked.
Once cool wrap in baking paper, then a double layer of foil and store in a dark cool place.
I usually make my Christmas cake a couple of months ahead so that I can give it a wee feed of Brandy, 2 feedings is more than enough, but if you haven’t got time, don’t worry as the fruit is pre-soaked and already absorbed lots of alcohol.
To finish your cake, cover with marzipan, using warm apricot jam spread over the cake to make it stick, then either ice with royal icing or fondant icing, which are both available ready made in the supermarkets and decorate as you wish.