Good aftermoon, a bit delayed today as I've been to watch my sons play rugby. Unfortunately they both lost but thankfully came home without major injuries. I find it scarier the older they get to watch them as it just seems so dangerous. Anyway back to business and todays Christmas Kitchen post! I know Christmas cake is a little bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it and I absolutley love it. As a child I remember helping my mum mix in the fruit and making a wish and have made my own Christmas cake for the past fifteen years. Ohh I now feel old!! I did try a different recipe a couple of years ago but was disappointed with the result so stick to Mary Berry's Classic Rich Christmas Cake. Yet I do vary the ingredients slightly as she has seperate weights for differents dried fruits, including apricots, which I don't like, so I just buy a good quality mixed dried fruit and still add the mixed peel and glace cherries. I guess you could also add a different spirit instead of brandy, I know Contrieau makes for a delicious tasting cake. The important thing with Christmas cake is to make it early so it has time to sit and that you can feed it more brandy in the run up to Christmas! Also be prepared with the length of time the cake requires in the oven.
Right aprons on and let's make a cake!
725g of good quality mixed dried fruit
100g glace cherries
50g mixed candied peel
3 tablespoons brandy
225g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
225g softened margerine or softened butter
225g dark muscavado sugar
4 extra large eggs
50g whole blanched almonds
1 scant tbsp black treacle
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange
These ingredients are to make an eight inch (20cm) cake.
1. This cake needs to be started the night before you want to bake it. Place all the dried fruit, including glace cherries and peel in to a large bowl, mix in the brandy, cover and leave overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Grease and line an 8" (20cm) deep round cake tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper.
3. Measure the flour, spice, margerine or butter, sugar, eggs, amonds, treacle and lemon and orange rinds in a large bowl.
4. Beat together to mix thoroughly.
5. Fold in the soaked fruits a couple of spoonfuls at a time, making sure everybody in your home/family has a turn and makes a wish.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly using the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours or until the cak feels firm to the touch and if you insert a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean when the cake is cooked. I always write the time the cake went into the oven, the first check time at 4 1/2 hours and final time of 4 3/4hours and stick it on the fridge so I don't forget when to check the cake!
8. When the cake has cooled pierce a few tiny holes in to it and pour a little more brandy onto it.
9. I now leave my cake in it's greaseproof paper that it baked in and wrap in a layer of foil and store in a box in a cool place. The cake will be fine stored for up to three months. Make sure you feed it at intervals with a little more brandy.
I will share a recipe for marzipan in the next cuple of weeks and icing and decorating ideas before Christmas.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
PS If you want to make a bigger cake send me an email or tweet me and I'll give you the ingredients weights as they vary depending on the size of your cake!