There is a family tradition in our household, Erik is always credited with putting in a gargantuan effort making all of our Christmas cakes. He doesn’t even lift a finger to help but always sits back looking smug as everyone tucks into them and showers him with compliments!
This year I’m making five cakes so there is a bit of effort because of the number I need. However if you are making just one for your family then there is not much work to do, but you do need to get on with it as the cake needs feeding with brandy between now and when you decorate it.
The recipe is one of Delia’s but as always I have had a good old tinker with it over the years – I’m omitting the nuts but I have included them in the recipe just in case you want to go that way.
The countdown to Christmas has started. So if you get going soon you can cook (and importantly feed) your Christmas cake so that you will have something special for the big day!
Weigh out all the fruits, cutting them into the appropriate sizes and tip them into a large mixing bowl. Tip the brandy over the surface of the fruit and stir it through. Cover with cling film and leave to soak for a day or two in the fridge or overnight on the worktop.
Prepare the cake tin by lining it twice on the sides and bottom.
For making the cake
Preheat the oven to 170Fan 190C 325F or Gas Mark 3.
Whisk the butter and sugar together. This will start off a buttery yellow colour but you need to keep beating it until it turns a pale colour and is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour with each egg – this will help to prevent the mixture from splitting.
Add in the ground almonds and the rest of the flour and gently mix through.
Tip in the nuts (if you are including them), the lemon and orange zests along with all the soaked fruit. Fold the fruit into the mixture either by hand or very gently with the mixer; you really don’t want to mash the fruit to pieces.
Pile the mixture into the cake tin and level it off. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour at the temperature above then turn the oven down to 150Fan, 170C, 300F or Gas Mark 2 for a further 2 hours (but I check on mine at 1 hour 45 mins and it was cooked).
Once cooked the cake will have shrunk away form the sides a little and be springy in the middle. Leave the cake in its tin until it is completely cold.
Once the cake is cold remove the baking parchment and pierce the top of the cake with a cake tester or cocktail stick and then feed the cake with an eggcup full of brandy. The wrap the cake with a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of tin foil. Then put the cake in an airtight tin with the side you have fed uppermost.
Three or four days later take the cake out of its tin and wrapping and turn it over so that the base is uppermost. Pierce the surface again and feed it another eggcup of brandy, putting it back (wrapped) into the tin this time with the base uppermost. Repeat the turn-over and feed every three or four days, the cake will be drunk by Christmas.
Decoration is a doddle but I will be covering that in a separate blog – now you know about it get on with it so you can start the feeding. Finally happy Christmas baking!