Traditional Christmas Cake

Last year I posted a couple of posts on how to make a simple Christmas cake.  This is a similar recipe but for an 8 inch cake – the others were for a 6 inch cake.

There’s nothing fancy about the cake – but it tastes bloody good, so what more do you need?

Beca’s Traditional Christmas Cake

Ingredients

  • 200g each of dried Cranberries, Currants, Sultanas and Raisins
  • 75g Candied or Mixed Peel
  • 125g Glace/Candied Cherries
  • 7-8 tbsp Brandy, Rum, Sherry – whatever you fancy!
  • 1 ½ tbsp Treacle
  • Zest of 1 ½ small Lemon and Orange
  • Juice of 1 small Orange
  • 225g Butter, unsalted & soft
  • 225g Brown Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 1½  tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 40g Ground Almonds
  • 60g Flaked Almonds

Method

Preheat oven to gas mark 2/130(fan)/150 Celsius.  Grease and line your 8 inch cake tin with two layers of greaseproof, making sure that the paper comes up higher than the height of the tin by at least an inch.  I would also wrap the outside of the tin with some newspaper and tie it with string, this just gives the cake extra protection for the long slow bake.  Put the tin to one side whilst you make the mixture.

You can soak the dried fruit in the brandy and orange juice overnight if you like, but if you forget then don’t panic!  Place all the dried fruit in a bowl and add the brandy, orange juice, zest and treacle.  Give it a good stir and put to one side until you need it.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light in colour.  Gradually add the eggs with the flour and spices until thoroughly combined.  Add the ground and slivered almonds along with the fruit and brandy mixture.  Give the whole mixture a good stir.  We tend to get everyone in the house to stir the cake at this point and then pack the whole mixture into the cake tin.  It may look like it won’t fit, but have faith – it will!  Make sure you press the mixture down as you’re filling the tin, ensuring there are no air holes.  Smooth the top and then lightly cover the cake with a round of greased greaseproof paper with a small hole in the middle for you to test late with a skewer.

Christmas Cake 3

The finished cake about to go into the oven…the house still smells amazing!

Put in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours, depending on how good your oven is!  The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Once baked, remove the cake and leave to rest on a cooling rack. I tend to bake the cake in the afternoon and leave it to cool under a tea towel over night.  Once completely cool, gently remove from the tin and give it a feed of brandy, around 1-2 tbsp should do the trick.  Wrap the cake in double greaseproof paper and then double foil and place in a tin, the cake will ‘sweat’ in a plastic Tupperware box.  Keep somewhere cool and feed it regularly.  I tend make the cake at least 3 months ahead of the big day, just so that it has longer to mature and take on more brandy!

Decorate the cake to suit your style and age group.  I always marzipan and ice the cake ahead of adding any decorations.

Tip:  When I made this cake today (08/11/15), I didn’t have the dried fruit listed above, or an orange or treacle or nutmeg…disaster I hear you cry!  Not really, so this is what I did:  I used dates, prunes, apricots and currants as well as glace cherries.  I used the zest and juice from 3 clementines, dark agave nectar in place of treacle and ½ tsp of allspice in place of nutmeg.  I only had rum or whiskey in the cupboard (as well as sake, Marsala, pimms, gin and stout….but didn’t think that any of these would work in the cake!), so I opted for rum as I know it goes well with prunes – courtesy of Richard Bertinet’s rum soaked prunes from his cookery school in Bath!  The cake looks and smells amazing, just 5 weeks of feeding before we can taste it!

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