Now is the time for you to get to grips with your Christmas cake, if you are really organised you’ll already have your Christmas cake in a tin and you will have been feeding it for weeks, if not try my Christmas cake recipe.
Hello to my American readers, you don’t have the tradition of Christmas cake that we do here. Christmas cake is a rich spiced very dark fruit cake, dense and fruity. This year I’m making a light fruit cake, a recipe from Delia, this one is without spices. Naturally I’ve tweaked it and added more fruit. This cake is more fruit than cake, dried, candied, crystallised you name it I’ve bunged it in. Once baked I feed this cake twice a week.
To make my Light Glace Fruit Cake You Will need
The night before you want to bake chop up the apricots into a bowl, add the sultanas and the brandy. Mix them up and cover with clingfilm. Let the fruit soak and every time you walk past the fruit turn it over so that all of the fruit gets coated in the drink. The fruit will sup-up the booze and reach a good level of plump lusciousness.
- 110g Pecan Nuts
- 110g Glace Pineapple
- 175g Glace Cherries
- 110g Whole Mixed Peel – please I beg of you do try to get whole peel and chop it up yourself – the ready chopped stuff is devoid of citrus zing
- 50g Angelica
- 50g Crystallised Ginger
- 50g Crystallised Mango
- Grated Zest of Unwaxed 1 Lemon and 1 Orange
Get chopping, I start by quartering the cherries and then work through the rest of the fruit getting them roughly the same size, tick them off the list one-by-one as you go. There is a heck of a lot of chopping, put the radio on and relax and get to it.
For the cake part
- 225g Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
- 225g Golden Caster Sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 50g Ground Almonds
- 225g Plain Flour Sifted
- 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- Half Teaspoon salt
Before you start line a 20cm springform cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, double layer on both the bottom and the sides. Then fold over a couple of sheets of newspaper and tie them to the outside of the tin. Most recipes say you should use brown paper, but I’m not wasting my time and money on getting that. You are cocooning the tin to protect the cake over its long cooking.
Now put the oven on Gas Mark 3, 325F or 150C Fan.
Whisk up the butter and the caster sugar until they change colour from yellowish to cream, this lets you know that there is enough air whipped into the mix.
Add the eggs 1 by 1, with a small spoon-full of flour to prevent the mix from curdling.
Sieve the flour, take 1 spoonful of flour – sprinkle it over the fruit and mix it up to coat the fruit.
Fold in the rest of the flour, ground almonds and almond extract into the eggy buttery mix and then fold in the huge pile of fruit. This is where I always get anxious, this cannot be enough cake mix for all this fruit, but it is – take a chill-pill it will be OK!
Pile the mix into the cake tin and smooth it off, make sure it is level, this cake will not ‘find its own level’ whilst cooking as the mix is so stiff.
Cook the cake for an hour, then open the oven door and slip a double layer of baking parchment on top of the cake and drop the temp to 130C Fan – then cook for two more hours. The kitchen will smell fantastic!
It is cooked when it has a springy texture in the middle and has srunken away from the sides slightly. When it is ready take it out of the oven and leave it to cool completely in the baking tin. Then take it out, peel away the baking parchment, wrap it snugly in a double layer of new baking parchment pop it to bed in an airtight tin.
Because this cake is cooked closer to Christmas than many alternative recipes you don’t have a very long time to feed it, but that is still no excuse not to get a decent amount of booze into it! I prick all over the top of the cake with a barbeque skewer (cocktail stick be dammed – not a big enough hole to sup up the booze). I drop in 15ml of brandy, that’s a tablespoon, wrap it back up in its double layer of paper and put it back in the tin – topside up.
Three days later I turn the cake over, prick holes in its bottom and lavish another tablespoon of luscious libation (brandy) into the holes, after re-wrapping it in the paper I return it to the tin this time with the bottom facing upwards; you don’t want the booze dribbling out. The next Sunday is top feeding time, followed by Wednesday being bottom feeding time. By the time Christmas comes one of us will be drunk and I think it is the cake. I stop feeding on the last week of November ready to decorate the cake… more of that to follow.
You really do have time to get one of these cooked, I would especially like you to try this in the USA, then when Christmas comes we can raise a slice of cake and have a drink at the same time… get baking folks.