Last week I published my blog with my Christmas Cake Recipe. I actually made my cakes 4 weeks ago and I have been busy feeding them. Now is the time for me to decorate mine.
I make my own candied orange slices for the centre of my cakes. I make more than I need, I do love to have them as a bittersweet snack.
The orange slices are cooked for a long time in sugar syrup, once cooked you don’t need the syrup for the cake. Please do not throw it away; a tablespoon of this elixir in a large gin and tonic is astounding. Another use is the syrup drizzled over ice cream… If you come up with other uses then please do let me know!
Slice the orange through the middle section, discard the ends. In my video above I've made them too thick, they will be harder to slice on top of the cake, but will still be delicious, If I were you I'd slice them a bit thinner
Drop the slices of orange into a pan of cold water and bring to a boil, cook for 2 mins and drain (throwing the water away). Repeat this step 3 times, this takes away some of the bitterness. If you choose to candy grapefruit them you must do this SIX times.
Mix equal quantities of water and white sugar in a saucepan – you need just enough to cover the orange slices. Heat this until the sugar melts. Pop the oranges into the syrup and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 2-3 hours. You just need a gentle bubble, you can use a piece of baking parchment on the surface to hold the oranges under water.
When fully cooked gently take the slices of orange out of the cooking syrup and lay them on a cooling rack. The slices will be soft and flobbery (a real word), pop the rack onto a baking tray to catch any drips and put the whole lot into a low oven… about 130C for an hour. They will firm up, do not try to cook them just dry them out.
To decorate the cake
Once you have fed your cake several times it is time to decorate it. Empty out a small jar of apricot jam into a saucepan – I use Hartley’s Smooth Apricot Jam (this comes in a squeezey bottle and can be found at Asda). Pop the pan on a low heat to warm the jam, this makes the jam much more spreadable. Once warm through slip in a tablespoon of brandy and mix well. Paint your cake with a layer of jam.
If you cannot find a smooth jam (that’s one with no lumps of fruit in it) then warm up a jar of ordinary jam to loosen it and then pass that through a sieve.
Pop one slice of orange in the middle of the cake and paint it with a coating of jam, top this off with a glace cherry.
Build up rings of your chosen fruit and nuts – painting them with a layer of jam as you go.
I have given you a list above but don’t feel you need to stick to this list. I do however think that it is a good idea to limit yourself to only items that are in the cake can go on the outside of it!
I do hope you bake my cake, if you are then I'd love to see pictures. This is something that you can do well in advance and that's one thing that you can cross off your list. We are not planning on waiting until the big day to get our teeth into our cake.
Whatever you do do I hope you have a happy Christmas.