I could eat Christmas cake any day of the year, but Christmas time is the only time I can really be bothered to make it. It’s a heavy-ish sort of cake, knee-deep in fruit, and that hint like a sly wink, of brandy. It’s probably not suited to our climate here in Australia, but you only need a small slice of this to get into the spirit of the festive season.
As part of the Festive Food Fair, conceived by Anna of Morsels and Musings, I baked this cake a week or two ago, wrapped it up tightly after it’s drink of brandy and have now broken the seal to taste the cake. It’s fabulous!
The recipe is from Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion. Don’t be put off by the amount of ingredients you need to weigh up. It’s easy to put the batter together once the fruit is macerated, and my favourite bit is the drizzling of the extra alcohol once it’s out of the oven. The cake just sponges it up like sozzled relatives on a hot Christmas day. Smaller versions of this cake can also be made, wrapped in gold paper and secured with a flourish of a bow to give away as presents to friends. No iPod soundtrack is needed for making this cake either. I hummed my way through The Twelve Days of Christmas while preparing this mammoth cake, and still can’t remember if it’s six or seven lords-a-leaping.
Christmas Cake from Margaret :
270g sultanas, roughly chopped
270g raisins, chopped
120g Australian dried apricots, chopped
60g prunes, stoned and chopped
270g softened unsalted butter
60g mixed peel
40g slivered almonds
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
250g dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon black treacle or golden syrup
whole blanched almonds for decoration
Put dried fruit into a large glass or ceramic bowl and add 100ml of the brandy. Soak overnight. Next day, preheat oven to 150’C (if you have a fan-forced oven, preheat it to 140’C). Grease a 22cm x 7cm deep round cake tin well with 20g of the butter and line with a double thickness of baking paper or brown paper.
Put mixed peel and slivered almonds into a large bowl and coat with a little of the flour to prevent clumping. Sift remaining flour with baking powder and spices. Cream brown sugar and remaining butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flour mixture alternately, then add soaked fruit, treacle, and almond mixture. Mix well. Turn mixture into prepared tin and scoop centre into a slight hollow to allow for rising. Place whole almonds in a circular pattern around edges of cake.
Bake for 3 hours. Insert a fine skewer and, if it does not come out clean, reduce oven to 110’C and check again after 15 minutes. When cooked, remove from oven and drizzle remaining brandy over cake. Allow to cool completely in tin before turning out. Wrap cake in several layers of greaseproof paper and then in foil and store in an airtight cake tin until Christmas Day.