I’m sharing my Christmas Cake recipe. Make it anytime in November and it will be perfect for Christmas.
If you make this and share a photo I’ll send you a wee bottle of whisky, just for fun because we’re not allowed it anywhere else at the moment!
150g dried cranberries
100g fried sour cherries or glacé cherries
225 of plain flour
225g of soft dark brown sugar
225g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of treacle
3 large free range eggs
zest of 2 unwaxed orange
1 teaspoon of ground spice
1 bottle of brandy or good whisky to soak the fruit and to treat the cake once it’s baked
1. Place all the dried fruits, not the glacé cherries, in a large bowl and pour a really good slug of brandy to wet the fruit.
2. Leave the fruit overnight in a larder or airing cupboard
3. Double or triple line a 18cm x 10 cm cake tin. Be as neat as possible as you want the mixture to sit neatly in and bake evenly so when you come to marzipan and ice the cake it’s easier.
I also wrap the tin in several layers of newspaper and tie it with string. It just allows the slow cooking to take place and the edges of the cake not to be too dark. I’ve never tried this in an electric or gas oven so I wouldn’t gamble on that one.
I always make this recipe entirely by hand as I feel it’s the best way to keep the fruit from breaking up and bursting.
Choose a big old fashioned grannies baking bowl or pot if you don’t have one big enough.
The butter has to be at room temperature or it will be too difficult to cream.
Cream the butter until light and airy and then add the sugar. Continue to cream until its lovely and fluffy.
Add the treacle and orange zest and beat together
Add an egg and a little sieved flour to stop the mixture curdling
Continue to add the eggs and flour until incorporated
Sieve in the spices and salt.
Drain the fruits and fold this into the cake mixture
If it looks dry add a spoonful of the soaking brandy to loosen the mixture
Transfer to the cake tin
Bake in the simmering oven of the Aga (if you’re spoiled like me and got one for her 40th birthday) for about 5 ½ hours or Gas Mark 2 for about 4 hours until the cake is cooked. Half way through cover with a few layers of grease proof paper to stop the top browning too much. A knife will come clean from the cake when cooked.
Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack. While warm drizzle a tablespoon or two of whisky onto the cake to start the treatment. Wrap in double thickness greaseproof paper and continue to treat the cake at least once per week until you are ready to cover in marzipan and icing. I cheat and use pre make marzipan and pre made royal icing. To make it easier you will need two 500g packets of each which will give you more than enough to adequately cover the cake top and around the side. Use icing sugar to help you roll out the marzipan first. A little melted marmalade or apricot jam brushed on top of the cake to help stick the rolled out marzipan to the cake. The marmalade will also help the icing stick to the icing. A pretty ribbon can cover a multitude of sins to finish off the cake. I bet you’ll love it.