My Christmas Cake Recipe

Having made Christmas cakes for a few people and receiving many compliments, I’ve been asked for the recipe. I have used this same recipe for the last 20 years or so and have adapted it as I have gone along, so I include my own little notes.

1 lb (500g) Sultanas } I tend to use
1 lb (500g) Currants } 3 lbs 4oz (1.5 Kg)
12 oz (350g) Raisins } Mixed dried fruit
6 oz (175g) Chopped, dried peel }

6 oz (175g) Quartered glacé cherries } I have also used diced apple instead
4 oz (125g) Chopped almonds } Can use any nuts, ground or chopped

10oz (300g) Flour
10oz (300g) Margarine or Butter
10oz (300g) Soft brown sugar

1 tbspn Black treacle } I use either syrup or honey

6 Eggs, beaten
½ tsp each Mixed spice, grated nutmeg, salt
4 tbspn Rum, brandy, sherry or whisky

TIN PREPARATION: Preparing the cake tin is very, very important as it prevents the cake drying out and the outsides burning as it needs to cook very slowly!

Double line and grease a deep 9” (22cm) cake tin with greaseproof paper. Then tie newspaper around the OUTSIDE using ordinary string. (I take 3 sheets of newspaper and fold in half lengthways, and again so that it is a long strip and I find that two of these overlapping will go round the tin. The newspaper should be higher than the sides of the tin, by about 2cm / 1”)

(If you want a slightly less deep cake, this mix will make an additional 1 lb loaf sized cake – it’s a generous quantity and you will be able to experiment with the number and size of cakes you get out of it. e.g I make 1 ½ times this mix and get a 9” square, plus a 2 lb and a 1lb loaf from it.)

OVEN: Turn on oven to warm up: Gas mark 3 (170°C / 350°F)

METHOD:
* In a large bowl coat all the dried fruit and nuts with approx a tbsp of the flour so that it is all lightly dusted.
* In a separate bowl cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the treacle/syrup/honey.
* Gradually add the beaten eggs (adding a sprinkle of flour to prevent curdling as needed)
* Sift the flour, spices and salt together and stir in to the mix (unlike sponge cakes there is no need to worry about folding in to keep in the air.)
* Add the alcohol – this is the key to the moistness of this cake.
* Lastly, stir in the fruit and nuts.
I like to follow tradition and close my eyes and make a wish whilst giving one complete stir. I then get any family member around at the time to do likewise.
* Pour mix into prepared tin(s) and bake

BAKING:
* Place cake(s) in centre of oven on Gas mark 3 (170°C / 350°F) for 20 mins
* Then reduce to Gas mark 2 (150°C / 300°F) for 40 mins
* Then reduce again to Gas mark 1 (140°C / 275°F) for approx 4 hours (for the 9” size)
* Cake(s) will be cooked when a skewer or knife comes out clean
* Leave cake(s) in tin(s) for around an hour before removing
* Place on clean plates and when completely cool, wrap in cling-film making as air tight as possible

STORING:
The wrapped cake should keep for weeks (if not months!) and should certainly be kept a minimum of 2 weeks before eating, to let the flavours mature. If keeping longer term, you can periodically add more alcohol for moisture and flavour, by using a cocktail stick to pierce the surface and trickling a capful of your chosen alcohol over it and allowing it to be absorbed.

DECORATING:
Marzipan should be added at least one week ( I prefer 2) before icing and once marzipanned, the cake can be just lightly covered to protect from dust, but you want the air to dry the marzipan before icing.
Once iced, this cake will keep for weeks so it can be made well in advance of Christmas.

Have fun experimenting with this basic recipe – Christmas cake is very forgiving and you can mix and match ingredients. Enjoy!

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