I don’t know about you, but the Festive period starts for me when I bake my annual Christmas Cake; the boozy soaked fruit, warm spices and gooey treacle mark the start of the indulgent period of the year.
In our household, we have unexpectedly come up with a weird tradition – there is so much food over Christmas that we actually rarely eat the cake until the following Autumn, giving me lots of time to ‘feed’ it with brandy. It is certainly one of those foods that get better with being matured. That’s what I love about it, you don’t have to worry about baking a whole cake and eating it within days; it literally lasts for years.
This weekend sees the bake for this years cake; every year I alter the recipe and make notes about the flavour, texture, colour, fruits used – and get excited thinking about how to decorate it. Do you use sugarpaste or crunchy royal icing, modern designs or the traditional cake topper models? I personally prefer a simple design, but that is probably because by the time I am ready to decorate it, it’s right in the middle of the manic time – I’ve been known to do it on Christmas Eve (or later!)
Here is the recipe I used this year; it is adapted from the lovely Jo Wheatley’s Book, her recipes are all fab, and have always been 100% for me – the year she won The Great British Bake Off was my favourite so far.
Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
175g unsalted butter, softened
100g soft dark brown sugar
75g dark brown sugar (or muscovado)
4 large eggs, beaten (approx 240g in weight – I always weigh my eggs)
70g mixed peel
100g dried cranberries, figs, prunes, apricots – choose your favourite and mix up as you wish!
100g glace cherries chopped
Zest of 1 orange
100g flaked almonds
250g self-raising flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1) Soak the fruit and peel in brandy overnight – in a bowl covered with a tea towel.
2) Line a 20cm / 8inch cake tin with parchment (I use reusable parchment sheets from a shop that sells things for £1, cut to size!)
2) Cream the butter and sugars together for 5 mins, until the colour is light and fluffy
3) Slowly add the eggs, one at a time – beating well in between
4) Stir in the flour, don’t over-mix
5) Add the dried fruit, nuts, mixed spice and treacle*
6) Spoon into the cake tine and level off with the back of a spoon
7) Bake in an over preheated to 165 degrees (fan) for 90 mins – turn it up 10 degrees for a conventional oven or range.
8) Check on the cake, cover the top with parchment or foil to stop it burning, turn the oven down to 150 degrees and bake for another 45 mins. Test that it is cooked through with a skewer, if it comes out clean it is cooked.
Cook for a further 10 mins if not cooked and check again – repeat if needed. Cooking time will depend on your oven.
9) Once out of the oven, leave to cool in the tin until you can handle the tin, then leave on a baking rack to cool.
10) The following day, feed with a teaspoon of brandy, and wrap in baking parchment – continue to feed the cake every week until you decorate it.
A week before you want to ice your cake brush with 3 tbsp heated and sieved apricot jam, then roll out 750g marzipan and place over then cake, trim the edges, and smooth out all the lumps and bumps.
A week later brush with a little boiled cooled water and repeat the process with fondant icing, then decorate. Here are some ideas of cake designs and decorating >> https://bit.ly/37CSu6r
* Top Tip – to spoon treacle from the tin, use a metal spoon – if you have a gas hob, heat the spoon tip on the flame, the treacle will easily slide on and off the spoon when hot. If you don’t have a gas hob, put the spoon in boiling water for 30 seconds before using it and it will have the same effect.
Thank you so much Claire! Your Christmas Cake sounds delicious!
If you’re looking for some branded bakes to send out to your clients, team or to take to your next event, make sure you give Claire a call. We’ve used her bakes a number of times and they are so yummy and make such a good impact!
Find out more at the link below.