I always get excited when it is time to start preparing for Christmas. I’ve already made mincemeat ready for mince pies and usually make the Christmas cake in October. A tradition kept from the times when our sons were little and we made at the end of half term week.
This year I’ve made the cake later and it wasn’t until this week that I got round to it. I love the smell of the fruit soaking in brandy, whiskey or cointreau overnight before baking the cake, followed by the spicy baking smell the next day.
I’ve tried a few recipes over the years and this is the combination that I have finally settled on.
Christmas Cake Recipe
- 900g mixed fruit (I choose a mix that includes peel)
- 3 tablespoons whiskey
- 225g plain flour
- 225g brown sugar
- 225 g salted butter
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 4 eggs
- 50g chopped almonds
- 1 dessertspoon black treacle
- Grated zest of one orange and one lemon
- 18cm round tin makes a very deep cake but I’ve also used 20cm for a shallower one
- The day before baking, measure the fruit and add the 3 tablespoons of whiskey (or brandy or other spirit), mix well and leave to soak overnight for the flavours to combine.
- When you are ready to cook, preheat the cooker to 140°C. While the oven is warming, begin by whisking the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Beat the eggs in to the mixture. I usually add a tablespoon of plain flour as it prevents the cake mix curdling.
- Once the egg has been added, fold in the rest of the flour and spices.
- Fold in the fruit, zest and chopped nuts. I omit Glacé cherries as I don’t like them but you could add 50g or so if you do.
- Spoon into a prepared cake tin that has been lined with baking paper on the bottom and round the sides. Make a small hollow in the centre of the cake as this helps make a smooth dome top on the cake for icing later.
- Bake in the oven for 4 hours, checking occasionally. Test the cake is ready by inserting a fine skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
- Once the cake has cooled, turn out onto a wire rack until completely cold. Once cold, prick the top of the cake and pour over 2 tablespoons of whiskey. Wrap in greaseproof paper with a final layer of foil and keep in a cool place. Occasionally, “feed” the cake over the comings weeks until ready to marzipan and ice.
If you don’t like icing, I’m sure you could eat this fruit cake as it is but there would be a few complaints if we didn’t have an iced cake in our house!