Christmas Cake

christmascake7.jpgThis is my recipe for a rich Christmas cake. It's packed with preserved fruits, making it naturally moist - and this will be enhanced by 'feeding' it with brandy.

The Recipe

Ingredients:

  • For the cake:
  • 150g Dried figs
  • 100g Raisins
  • 100g Dried apricots
  • 100g Dates
  • 50g Candied citrus peel
  • 75g Sweetened dried cranberries
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • Fruit juice (to top up the orange juice to 250ml)
  • 225g Self raising flour
  • 175g sugar (a blend of brown and white sugars - see the recipe)
  • 175g Butter or baking fat
  • 2 Eggs
  • Half a teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cinnamon
  • 50g Dark chocolate
  • After making the cake:
  • Brandy, sherry or other liquor to feed the cake
  • Marzipan and fondant icing

Method:

christmascake1.jpgPut all the dried fruit into a pan (If any of the fruits is in pieces larger than the raisins, chop it up first to about that size).

Pare or grate the zest (outer rind) of the orange directly into the pan, then juice the orange.

Add extra fruit juice (fresh or from a carton - and any kind you like - I used fresh pomegranate juice) to make up to 250ml. Add this to the pan.

Heat this until it boils, then give it a good stir, turn off the heat and allow it to cool completely to room temperature. The dried fruit will absorb all of the juice.

christmascake2.jpgWhen the fruit is completely cool, make the cake batter - for this next step, you'll need the flour, butter, eggs, spices and sugar

I used a mixture of white caster sugar, dark soft brown sugar and molassess sugar - as long as you keep the total weight the same, you can adjust this any way you like - to make the cake as dark and rich as you dare.

christmascake3.jpgNow is a good time to preheat your oven - 160C.

So put the flour, butter, eggs, spices and sugar in a big bowl and whisk together using an electric beater, until a thick batter is formed that does not contain any lumps.

Then start adding some lumps! - Chop up the chocolate into little pieces and stir it in.

christmascake4.jpgIf for some reason, there is still a lot of liquid in the pan with the fruit mixture, drain it off before mixing into the cake batter.

(Don't throw this liquid away, as it will be a rich, fruity syrup that you can add to mulled wine or just pour over ice cream)

Add the fruit mixture to the bowl and stir it in well.

christmascake5.jpgPour the cake mixture into lined, deep 7-inch tin.

This one is 4 inches deep and has a loose bottom, so that the cake can be pushed up out of the tin when it's cooked - and I've lined it at the bottom and around the edge with re-usable silicone lining sheets (alternatively, you can use greased baking parchment)

christmascake6.jpgBake in the preheated oven for an hour, then turn the heat down to 130C and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This is a soft cake with a very high proportion of fruit - it's too fragile to handle when it's warm, so be patient with the cooling.

So that's the cake - wrap it up and store in an airtight container overnight..

christmascake7.jpg

So that's the cake - next, we'll need to feed it. Use a thick skewer to poke some holes in the top surface of the cake - push the skewer at least halfway through the thickness of the cake.

Then get some brandy, sherry or other strong alcoholic drink and spoon it into the holes (and also into the natural cracks in the top surface).

I used probably about half a glass of brandy on mine - you can use more, but be careful not to make the cake completely soggy.

The cake now needs to be stored for a couple of weeks before it can be covered with marzipan and icing.

The alcohol feeding will help to preserve the cake during this time and will also assist in developing the flavour, which will mature and mellow during storage.

So for now, it's wrapped in parchment paper and stored in a tin in a cool place.

Incomplete Article

I did cover the cake with rolled marzipan and fondant icing, then we all ate it in the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, none of that was documented - but I can tell you it was a delicious, rich, moist and fruity Christmas Cake.

Variations On This Recipe

If you don't like one or more of the dried fruits in this cake - for example, a lot of people don't like figs - you can substitute pretty much anything other dried fruit, or increase the amount of one of the existing fruit ingredients to compensate.

Instead of shop-bought candied peel, I used a couple of my own syrup-preserved clementines

Comments

1. On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 23:17 by Carl

Do I need to adjust the time sif my ovens fan assisted?

2. On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 23:22 by Mike (for Atomic Shrimp

I believe the general advice for fan ovens is to turn down the temperature by around 10 degrees C and reduce the cooking time by ten minutes out of each hour. Ovens are pretty variable from one to the next though. If you suspect your cake isn't cooked

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