Now that the kids are safely back to school and the nights are starting to draw in it’s time to plan ahead for Christmas.
Always top of my list is the Christmas Cake. Everyone loves a piece of rich fruit cake and it’s a pleasure to give visitors a piece when they arrive.
Unfortunately not everyone has the confidence to make their own cake.
This is my favourite Christmas Cake recipe and it couldn’t be easier to make. I usually make this cake anytime from the end of September as it keeps exceptionally well.
I’ve made this cake every Christmas for over 10 years and so far it’s worked out every time. It’s as popular with my family and friends today as when I first tried the recipe – which I found in a magazine.
MAKES: an 8in/20.5cm round cake
PREP: 50 minutes, plus overnight soaking time
COOKING TIME: 3 1/2 – 4 hours
Christmas Cake Recipe
- 8oz/225g currants
- 8oz/225g raisins
- 8oz/225g sultanas
- 6oz/175g glace cherries (roughly chopped)
- 3oz/75g mixed peel
- grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
- grated rind and juice of 1 orange
- 1/4pt/150ml brandy or rum
- 8oz/225g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2tsp/2.5ml mixed spice
- 1tsp/5ml ground cinnamon
- 8oz/225g unsalted butter
- 8oz/225g dark muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1tbsp/15ml black treacle
- 2oz/50g flaked almonds
- 2oz/50g mixed walnuts & hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 2oz/50g ground almonds
- 6tbsp/90ml apricot jam
- 1 1/4lb/575g marzipan
- icing sugar, to dust
- 8in/20.5cm deep, round cake tin
- 11in/28cm cake board
- Place all the fruit and peel in a bowl
- Add the lemon and orange rind, juice and the brandy or rum.- we always take turns to turn the fruit mix at this point.
- Cover and soak overnight. The smell when you remove the cover is fantastic!
- Preheat your oven to Mark 1/275F/140C.
- Grease and line the sides and base of the cake tin.
- Tie a band of brown paper around the outside of the tin and place the tin on a baking sheet lined with more brown paper.
- Measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to add to your mixture.
- Sieve the flour, salt and spices together.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
- Break eggs into a bowl and whisk gently
- Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add a spoonful of flour if the mixture begins to curdle
- Stir in the black treacle. (Tip -warm your spoon, I pour boiling water over mine before putting it into the treacle tin- then your spoonful will slide off into your cake mix easily)
- Add all the nuts, including the ground almonds, to the fruit and, using a large metal spoon, fold them into the mixture along with the flour.
- Spoon into the prepared tin, making a slight dip in the centre. (the dip is to allow the cake to rise slightly giving you a flat surface when it’s cooked)
- Cook in the middle of the oven for about 3 1/2 – 4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (You’ll know when it’s ready because your skewer will not feel sticky)
- Cover with brown paper if the top begins to brown too quickly
- Leave to cool in the tin.
- Then turn out and store wrapped in foil.
Don’t forget to ‘feed’ your cake with more brandy to help keep it moist – I usually feed mine once a week;
To feed your cake – using a skewer put a few holes in the top of the cake and pour on about a tablespoonful of brandy/rum.
Add the marzipan to your cake around a week prior to icing – this gives time for the marzipan’s oil to dry slightly and stain your icing.
Prepare your Christmas Cake for Icing
Spoon the apricot jam into a saucepan with 1tbs/15ml water.Heat gently, then sieve and cool slightly.
Place the cake on an 11in/28cm cake board and lightly brush the jam over the top and all round the side of the cake (if you intend only ice the top of your cake and add a cake frill to the sides – don’t put jam on the sides.
On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan into a circle about 6in/15cm larger than the cake. (or the top of the cake if that’s all that is to be iced)
Lift the marzipan onto the cake, smooth the top and if you’re going to ice the whole cake, mould it down over the sides.
Trim off any excess.
Wrap and leave aside for around a week before applying your icing.
Ice and decorate your Christmas cake according to your own taste, with either royal or fondant icing.
*If you plan to only ice the top of your cake – which is something I tend to do – then you’ll not need nearly as much marzipan, I usually buy a block at the supermarket and this is usually enough.
*If the thought of icing your cake puts you off making one then take a leaf out of my book and only ice the top, for this type of icing to work you’ll need to use royal icing which is made using icing sugar and egg white.
Make your Royal Icing fairly stiff so that when you put the flat side of a knife or palette knife onto it and lift it, the icing should create peaks that stand upright. (I was taught to do this many years ago by a Home Economics teacher)
While the icing is still soft place some Christmas favours on top and put a cake frill or tie a ribbon round the outside to disguise the fruit cake. Make sure your frill or ribbon stays attached by ‘sticking’ it to the sides using small blobs of left over Royal Icing.
Wait patiently until Christmas day and surprise your friends with some warm mulled wine and a nice piece of your own Christmas Cake – sit back and wait as their taste buds start to tingle.
If you’re trying this cake for the first time – do let us know how you got on with it. We’d love to hear what you and your family thought of this recipe.
Do you have a favourite Christmas recipe of your own – one that never lets you down? Why not share it with us – you can contact us using the form below.