The Christmas Cake

2012-12-16
  • Servings : 20
  • Prep Time : 30m
  • Cook Time : 3:00 h
  • Ready In : 6:00 h

This is a tried and tested Christmas cake recipe that we first baked over ten years ago. We’d found the recipe on the then fledgeling ‘interwebs’. Since then, it has become a huge hit among our friends and family. We don’t get around to baking it every year, but whenever we do, the spirit of Christmas comes flooding back with every bite.

The ingredients in the recipe are easy to find, and it’s not that difficult to make. The only trick is baking it slowly. The first time we made this, we only had a simple table-top oven, whose timer only went up to 90 minutes! So it was a case of staying up to reset the oven many times overnight. Now with a better oven in our kitchen, it’s much simpler.

Ingredients

  • 12oz/340g Plain flour
  • 1tsp/5ml Cinnamon Powder
  • 1tsp/5ml Ground Mixed Spice or Pumpkin Spice or Garam Masala
  • 0.5 tsp fine salt
  • 1lb/900g of dried soft fruit. I use the following mix, as an example:
  •       1lb/450g Currants
  •       8oz/225g Raisins
  •       8oz/225g Sultanas
  •       Chopped apricots or dried pineapple also work
  • 4oz/115g Glace Cherries
  • 4oz/115g Candied Peel or Italian Mixed Peel
  • 4oz/115g Blanched Almonds
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 5tbsp/100ml Sherry/Brandy/Port/Scotch
  • 8oz/225g Butter
  • 8oz/225g Sugar - caster or preferably demerara
  • 1tbsp molasses or dark treacle

The Mixing

 In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, and add your choice of hooch to it. I find that 4 parts sweet sherry to one part whiskey works well. You can use your choice of liquor, depending on your taste. Top up the alcohol if you like your cake extra boozy.

 In a large bowl, add the the lemon zest, glace cherries, the mixed peel, and the other fruits. Ground the almonds to a breadcrumb consistency, and add. Mix well, preferably with clean hands.

In another large bowl, add the butter, sugar and molasses.  Mix them with a wooden spoon till it turns into a smooth paste. This will require some effort, about 10 minutes of hard upper arm action! But the rewards are enormous. You can take the butter out of the fridge to soften it a little bit to room temperature, but resist the temptation to put this into a microwave.

Once the butter and sugar are well mixed, add about a quarter of the egg mixture, and a quarter of the flour, and mix well. Repeat a further three times till all the flour and egg is incorporated.

 Finally, add the fruit in slowly, mixing well. You will end up with a mixture of the consistency of partially dried cement.

The Baking

This cake needs a slow, long bake. It is important to ensure that the sides and bottom dont burn due to contact with hot metal. So take a 10inch loose bottom cake tin, line the bottom and sides with grease proof paper. Ensure three layers at the bottom, and two layers on the sides. The idea is to insulate the cake mixture from the metal of the tin. Pour the cake mixture into the lined and greased tin.

Alternatively, I use a silicone baking dish, which makes the whole thing much easier.

There are two alternative ways of baking this cake, a slow method, and a faster one. While baking, check if it is done by inserting a skewer or a thin knife into the cake. There should be no dough sticking to it when you pull it out. Note that you will have raisin juices on the skewer, that is normal. The temperatures below are for fanless ovens. Adjust accordingly for ovens with fans. Bake to the upper end of the time range if you like your cake well done, and to the lower end of the range for a lighter bake.

Fast Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Bake at this temperature for 1½ hours.

Turn the temperature down to 135°C (275°F) and bake for another 1½ to 2½ hours, checking occasionally.

Slow Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Bake at this temperature for 1½ hours.

Turn the temperature down to 120°C (250°F) and bake for another 2 to 3½ hours, checking occasionally.

The Aftermath

Traditionally a Chrismas cake is baked a few weeks in advance. But believe me when I say that this cake is as good as any as soon as you bake it. So feel free to dig in immediately.

If you do store it, poke some holes on the top with a skewer,  and keep it wrapped in foil within an air tight container. Every 3-4 days, open up the foil, and pour a couple of tablespoons of your favourite liquor, and close up.

Merry Christmas!

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