Well, what can I say, there are only 31 days until Christmas, hasn’t this year flown by? I can’t believe that we are on the brink of 2014, do you have any new year’s resolutions? I suppose mine would be the usual to lose a few lbs, be able to run further, finish university with a first and find a job in an area I enjoy. The same old same old.
Last week I decided that I was going to just go ahead and make a Christmas cake, the incredibly rich kind which I suppose you should make 3 months in advance. If I’m brutally honest, I didn’t want to do it. The crux of the issue is, that no one in my house likes to eat it, shocking I know, but we don’t tend to eat super-rich fruit cakes, more the Manor House/crumbly/cut and come again types. So on this basis, this cake will be given away, hopefully decorated nicely and presented on Xmas eve. The feeding of the cake with brandy will be this Sunday, so I will update about my progress when I reach the next stage of covering it with marzipan. Wish me good luck! Here is the recipe Mary uses:
- 100 g red or natural glacé cherries
- 100 g dried apricots, diced
- 275 g currants
- 175 g sultanas
- 50 g finely chopped candied peel
- 3 tbsp brandy
- 225 g plain flour
- 1/4 level tsp freshly grated (I used dried) nutmeg
- 1/2 level tsp ground mixed spice
- 225 g butter, softened
- 225 g dark muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
- 50 g chopped almonds
- 1 scant tbsp black treacle
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- Grated rind of 1 orange
- You must start this cake the night before you plan to bake it; cut the cherries into quarters then run under cold water to rinse off the syrup. Drain well, then pat dry with kitchen towel, removing excess water. Add the fruits to a large bowl, mix in the brandy then cover with clingfilm and leave to sit in a cool place overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 140C/fan 120C/gas mark 1 (yes 1!) and grease and line an 8″ deep round cake tin (both the sides and the base).
- Add the flour, spices, butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, treacle, lemon and orange rinds into a large bowl, beating until smooth. Fold in the soaked fruits, spoon into the tin then level the surface with the back of a spoon. Cover the top with 2 pieces of round parchment, loosely.
- Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 4 hrs – 4 hours 45 mins, moving to the top shelf and removing the parchment if necessary. My cake took over 5 hours to bake but it depends on your oven mainly. Take out of the oven once a skewer comes out clean, leave to cool in the tin.
- When cool, piece the cake at several intervals and feed with a little brandy (I avoided this step as I added more brandy to the fruit initially).
- Wrap the cold cake with 2 sheets of parchment and then 2 sheets of foil and store in a cold place, feeding with brandy at regular intervals – I’m intending to do it once a week as not to be overpowering. Don’t remove the bottom sheet of parchment as this will keep the cake moist.
- Cover the cake with almond paste/marzipan about a week before icing.
- Cover the cake with fondant or ready-rolled icing; you could colour the leftover almond paste with dark green, red, whatever you fancy! And use a ribbon to cover the sides.
- I didn’t do this as I was running out of time, but instead re-rolled the leftover icing and used xmas cookie cutters as shapes! Voila!