At this time of year, everyone is busy. End of year deadlines to be met at work or college, Christmas for the children and all the organisation and secrecy involved in that; Christmas shopping and cooking for the adults, entertaining to be planned with military precision because Christmas is only ONE day. Traditionally, Christmas cakes were made at the end of October/beginning of November to give the cake time to mature. However there is a recipe for a deliciously moist, rich cake that can be made in a hurry and left to cool overnight in the tin. This recipe is a variation on different themes of Christmas/rich fruit cake recipes that has surpassed itself in flavour and texture. Slap a bit of snowy white icing on it or glaze it and add exotic dried fruits to present to guests. This cake recipe has been used several times, using regular self-raising flour and gluten free self-raising flour, depending on the constitution of the guests expected.
Ingredients8 ozs each of currants, raisins and sultanas
4 ozs each of whole blanched almonds and roughly chopped glace cherries
12 ozs self-raising (gluten-free, if desired) flour
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
quarter-teaspoon of ground cinnamon
half teaspoon each of vanilla, lemon and almond essences
5 eggs, beaten together very well
8 ozs slightly salted butter ( if only unsalted butter is available, add a small pinch of salt)
8 ozs castor or fine brown sugar
7 fl. ozs brandy
2 fl. ozs apple OR orange juice (from carton)
MethodMix fruit, nuts and cherries in large bowl and add the brandy and the apple or orange juice. Stir well, savouring the aroma of brandy and dried fruit. Cover and leave overnight. In the morning stir the sugar into the brandied fruit and add the essences, combining everything very well.
Set the oven to Gas 2, 350F or 150C. For fan ovens reduce this to around 120C.
- Measure out the flour, adding the spices to combine well.
- Melt the butter slowly in a pan on the hob.
- Add the flour and spice mix to the fruit mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding a little beaten egg and melted butter with each addition, stirring well, then lightly beating each time.
- When all of the egg and butter has been added, stir in the remaining flour thoroughly, until well combined. Lightly beat the cake mixture.
- Lin an 8″ tin with greaseproof paper and tip the cake mixture in.
- Bake for 3 – 3.5 hours. Check the cake after an hour to ensure that it’s not baking too quickly. If necessary turn down the heat in the oven. Success often depends on the oven temperature.
When the cake is ready (check using a knife; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready), leave to cool in the tin. Decorate in any festive way. Enjoy!