It’s that wonderful time of the year again – Christmas cake making time. I love the weekend I choose to make the annual Christmas cake. I allow time to slow down for one day and take my time baking, putting care and attention into this very special cake. For me this makes the start of the festive season. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s too early for trees and all other things Christmas related, but the cake’s a gentle ease into the festivities.
This year though, Christmas will be a little different. No tree, no presents and Christmas day at the beach. As a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas I think I might find an all out alternative Christmas a little too much to take. So maybe I should just make one Christmas cake, a transportable one, which can be eaten at the beach!
The Best Christmas Cake Ever – Ingredients
150g mixed dried berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries)
100g sour dried cherries
90g dark brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 tbsp black treacle
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
150g butter (at room temperature)
150g plain flour
75g ground almonds
100g roughly chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
In a saucepan place the dried fruits and brandy, bring to the boil, let cool, covering so the fruits can soak up all the alcohol overnight.
The next day line your cake tin (18cm) with two layers of greaseproof paper; make sure they are high enough to wrap the cake up in after it is baked. Preheat the oven to 150°C /130°C for fan ovens.
Cream the butter and sugar along with the lemon until light and fluffy, I use an electric whisk for this bit. Add the eggs in gradually, making sure they don’t curdle, also add in the treacle, nuts and vanilla essence at this point.
Sift the dry ingredients; lift them high to get lots of air. Add the soaked fruit to the creamed butter mixture, when fully mixed in fold the flour in carefully and spoon into the tin. Bake in the oven for 1hr 45min – 2hrs 15mins or until a skewer comes out fairly clean.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven and still hot use a skewer to prick lots of holes in it, spoon over some extra brandy and immediately wrap it, tin and all, in the paper. Wrap this parcel in two layers of tin foil to keep it hot so it steams it, making it moist. I found also wrapping it in a tea towel then into an airtight tin relieved my worries of a dry cake but that’s just me!
Leave for at least 3 weeks (mine was actually 2 and was still very moist) then decorate as you wish. I chose marzipan then very untraditional red icing (above), using a diluted strawberry jam as a kind of glue between layers.
I always use the best ingredients I can afford, opting for high end dried fruit and brandy, my feeling being the overall result will be better, which it always is.
To see my other experiments in cooking see here… Recipes