I bought the tiny Christmas tree for our Christmas cake in a shop that sells items for doll’s houses
A little while ago I said I’d post an idiot-proof Christmas cake recipe. This is the cake I make every year and have done since it appeared (c1968) in a weekly series called Cordon Bleu Cookery Course. It was an expensive way of gathering together a recipe library and I soon ceased buying this weekly magazine and eventually parted with all but this single issue with the Christmas cake recipe. So here it is.
You will need an 8″ tin. I prepare the tin by first greasing it and then lining it with a double thickness of baking parchment. If you’re not au fait with lining a round tin, then measure around the circumference and then cut a double thickness of paper to that length. Fold over the long sides of this double thickness baking parchment by a couple of inches, and then snip along the length with scissors every so often up to the fold. This way you can then splay out the paper in the bottom of the tin and it will wrap around the sides easily. Two layers of baking parchment in the bottom of the tin, too.
Now set your oven at 350F, Mark 4 gas, or if like me you have an electric fan assisted oven, 160C.
Ingredients (I will use Imperial measurements, as this is how the recipe is written)
8 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1 lb sultanas
12 oz raisins
8 oz glace cherries (rinsed, dried and halved)
4 oz almonds (I buy them in their skins and blanch them in boiling water and remove the skins before chopping )
2 oz candied peel (shredded)
6 oz butter
grated rind of 1/2 lemon or orange (I use lemon)
6 oz dark brown sugar (Muscovado)
4 eggs (beaten)
2 tablespoons of brandy (or sherry or 1 tablespoon orange juice; brandy is definitely the better option)
Sift the flour with the salt and the spices into a bowl. Now divide this flour mixture into three portions. Mix one portion with the prepared fruit, almonds and peel.
In a separate bowl (a large one) beat the butter until soft, add the lemon (or orange) rind and sugar and continue beating until soft.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each one, then using a metal spoon fold in the second portion of flour. Now mix in the fruit and the remaining flour, brandy (or sherry or orange juice.)
Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top of the cake. Dip your fingers into some warm water and moisten the surface lightly. This can be done with a pastry brush but great care must be taken as there should only be a film of water on the mixture. In baking, the small quantity of steam from the water prevents the crust of the cake from becoming hard during the long cooking.
Put the cake in the middle of the pre-set oven and bake for about 2 hours. After 1 hour reduce the heat of the oven to 325F, Mar 3 gas or 150C (fan assisted oven) and cover the top with a double thickness of baking parchment.
Test the cake after 2 hours cooking by sticking a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean the cake is done. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, standing the tin on a baking rack. Then turn out and leave until cold.
Wrap the cake in baking parchment or foil and store in an airtight container for up to three weeks before decorating.
I will give you the almond paste and icing recipes another time. Meanwhile, this really is an idiot-proof recipe. Also, it does not require ‘feeding’ with alcohol of anykind after baking. A lot of people douse their cakes with brandy or whisky, but raw alcohol isn’t pleasant in a cake. What you want is the flavour without the raw sprit, and this cake is rich enough without any further additions, believe me.
Right. What are you waiting for? Ready, get set. Bake!