Yes, it might only be September, but it’s time to talk about the “C” word – Christmas. While it might raise a few eyebrows to suggest diving into the festive spirit this early, we promise that a wonderfully rich and flavourful Christmas cake will be worth it.
By embracing this age-old tradition, treasured by generations past, you’ll uncover the beauty of an early start. It’s not just about changing how the cake looks – it’s a hidden art that blends flavours, textures, and scents into a masterpiece fit for the merriest of celebrations.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and start baking!
- 1kg mixed dried fruit (we love to use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes and figs)
- Zest and juice 1 orange
- Zest and juice 1 lemon
- 150ml brandy sherry, whisky or rum
- 250g softened butter
- 200g brown sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 100g ground almond
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 100g flaked almonds
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large pan over medium heat, combine 1kg of mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml of brandy or another alcohol, 250g of softened butter, and 200g of light, soft brown sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the fruit mixture into a spacious bowl and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan, gas mark 2). Take a deep 20cm cake tin and line it with two layers of baking parchment. Next, wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin and secure it with string.
- To the fruit mixture, add 175g of plain flour, 100g of ground almonds, ½ tsp of baking powder, 2 tsp of mixed spice, 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp of ground cloves, 100g of flaked almonds, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Stir everything thoroughly, ensuring there are no pockets of flour left.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, use a spatula to even out the top, and place it in the center of the oven. Bake for 2 hours.
- Once the baking time is up, take the cake out of the oven. Use a skewer to poke some holes in the cake and drizzle 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol over it. Allow the cake to cool down completely while still in the tin.
- For storage, remove the baking parchment and tightly wrap the cake with cling film. To keep the cake moist and flavorful, “feed” it with 1-2 tablespoons of alcohol every two weeks until you’re ready to ice it.
- In the last week before icing, refrain from feeding the cake. This will allow the surface to dry out before you apply the icing.
And just like that, you’re one step closer to being fully prepared for the big day. With your Christmas cake checked off the list, you’ll have more time to focus on wrapping presents, decorating the house, and most importantly, enjoying quality time with your family on Christmas Eve.