Friday 21 November 2008

The Best Christmas Cake

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 honey
250g butter
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.


William Leigh said...

Interesting use of the coffee - I haven't seen that before. Am inspired to do a spot of baking now! Great pic too.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Lucky Cery she gets to lick the spoon:D

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

That sounds really good David! What would an espresso cup be equivalent to? Maybe half a cup? I don't drink coffee.

Anonymous said...

This sure does bring back memories--Watching the Mother soak the cake while taking a sip--priceless.

I've got to learn how to make something that I have to keep feeding with whiskey...

I got a Hard Working Blog award from another blogger so I'm passing it on to you. However I can't seem to figure out how to get it off my screen...if you can grab it you can have it! Cheers!

Jan said...

I haven't had Christmas cake since I moved to the US 13 years ago. Maybe it's high time I rectified that. Your cake sounds delish.

Squishy said...

Looks like an excellent recipe David. I have never heard of feeding your cake booze every two weeks. Cerys looks like she is having fun with that spoon. Gorgeous arn't when they are like that. My Peanut is just adorable to. Keep up the excellent blog work.


Sam Sotiropoulos said...

I thought a good friend of mine, Ken Barichello made the best Christmas cake around, but I may have erred... ;) Thanks for reminding me to give Ken a call and wish him all the best for the Holiday Season. Come to think of it, allow me to wish you and yours the Very Best Compliments of the Season, David. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and insightful posts, I very much enjoy reading them.

Be Well,


Trig said...

Dad's making something similar - he tells me he's had the fruit soaking in brandy and rum for several weeks now and the cake will be made in mid-December.

Boozy fruit Xmas cake is not the sort of thing that Catalans eat - they prefer torró here which is a kind of nougat (but not like the commercial rubbish we get in Britain). And most Brits would be shocked at the sight of a caganer with his trousers dropped, showing them what to do after feasting!

Even though I don't have a sweet tooth, I'm looking forward to getting my share of booze cake when I come over for Xmas. The cocoa powder sounds like a good idea. I'll suggest it to dad.

Bon Nadal!

Cynthia said...

Not because you are so organised means that it is necessary to point out that that day is 5 weeks away! :) Nevertheless, send me some of the cake.

Unknown said...

Feed that cake up! Great recipe David.

Rosie said...

Just having read your recipe David with a splendid list of ingredients this is one fine fruit cake indeed!

I baked my cake a few weeks ago and been 'feeding' it brandy every two weeks *hic*

Ahhhhh loved the pic of Cery licking the spoon :)

Rosie x

Ken Reay said...

We get our Christmas cake (and puds) from my 90 year old mother in law who probably uses more booze than you! I'll tell her about cocoa and coffee. I'd like to taste yours though. Ours tastes best with a piece of very strong cheese on the side ! See you soon.

Aimée said...

I'm so tempted, David! I love this recipe, but i had leftover fruitcake last year b/c so many people don't like it.

Bird of Paradise said...

This should be better then fruitcake

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