With 5 weeks to go before that most indulgent of days, Christmas Day, it is now time to start getting that cake done. It isn’t too early to make a Christmas cake. Thanks to the huge amount of preserved fruit and booze, it can keep for a long time if wrapped and kept in a cool, dark place.
We made ours this week. It is a tried, tested, tweaked, tested then tweaked again recipe. A lot of people I know don’t like a traditional Christmas cake, saying that it is too rich/dry/boozy. So my recipe is one that tries to appease all taste buds. Not too boozy, certainly not dry and with added ingredients that will please rather than offend.
If you can handle the alcohol, ‘feed’ your cake every 2 weeks with a shot glass of brandy or whisky. A few knitting needle holes will help the booze soak into the rich concoction of fruit, sugar, cocoa, orange and coffee – a combination from heaven in anybody’s world. Wrap it tightly in greaseproof paper and foil and keep in an airtight cake tin. Come Christmas Day, you will be knocked over by the sensational aromas as you remove the lid for the first slice.
Like all of the best things in life, it is the simple things that work. And like any child that grew up with people cooking in their family, my daughter Cerys threw herself into the ubiquitous spoon licking like a seasoned professional. So get mucking about in the kitchen with the kids this weekend and knock up a Christmas cake to beat all Christmas cakes.
The Best Christmas Cake
200g dark muscovado sugar
100g each of raisins, currants, sultanas, dried figs and dried prunes, roughly chopped
1 espresso cup of coffee
A large splash of brandy or whisky
Tablespoon of mixed spice
Zest and juice of an orange or 2 satsuma, tangerines or clementine
1 tbsp of cocoa powder
3 large eggs
100g plain flour, sifted
150g ground almonds
Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1 - Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C, GM3. Grease and line a 22cm spring form cake tin.
2 - Melt the butter and sugars in a large pan then add the fruit, coffee, brandy or whisky, spice and honey. Zest and juice the oranges and add along with the cocoa powder. Stir until dark, caramelised and fragrant.
3 - Beat the eggs and add to the mixture along with the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Fold in thoroughly until not a trace of flour is left.
4 - Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 2 hours. If the top looks like it is catching, cover with baking paper.