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Time for Christmas Cake.

1 kg of mixed fruit- mixed fruit, sultanas, currants, red glace cherries.

2 tbl spoons of orange juice. 1 small glass of Brandy/whiskey

Grated peel of 1 lemon and 1 orange.

225 g of dark muscovado sugar, 2 tbl sp of treacle/golden strup. or 250 sugar if none.

250 g butter. 4 medium or 3 large eggs.

225 g of plain white flour. 100 g of ground almonds. 1 t sp of mixed spice

The basic recipes for Christmas cake are pretty similar. If you have things like treacle in the press, by all means , use it, but there is no great need. I like to use 250 grams of butter, as I like the taste , but you can cut it down to 225 if you like.

Prepare the fruit. 1 kilo of mixed fruit and nuts should do it. Use 1 bag of mixed fruit , 1 bag of sultanas and some glace cherries. If you add nuts, use less mixed fruit.

Place the 1 kg of fruit in a bowl, pour over some orange juice, a small glass of brandy or whiskey, the grated peel of the orange and 1 lemon, mix well and leave to soak, preferably overnight, giving it a stir from time to time.

Stir in all your wishes for a Happy Christmas while you are at it.

Next day, take out all the ingredients, so that you have them to hand and that the eggs and butter are at room temperature. Line the cake tin with 2/3 sheets of baking paper .. Draw out a circle for the base, cut out and add the sides, going over the top.

Turn on the oven to 150^ C/300^F or gas mark 2.

Cube the butter into small squares, and using an electric mixer, add the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one, beating all the time., sprinkled with a t spoon of flour. Add the ground almonds, the all spice and slowly the rest of the sifted flour.

Gently add the soaked fruit, turning it gently into the mixture with a wooden spoon, until it is mixed through. If any family members are around, invite them to have a stir and make a wish. Children love this. They also love the bowl.

Spoon into prepared tin, smooth top and place in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Check how cooking is coming along, lower heat to 140^c/275^F and cook for a further 2-2 and a 1/2 hours depending on how it cooks. . Pierce with a skewer and it should come out clean.

Remove from oven, leave in tin until cool. You could pour a half glass of brandy over it, depending on your taste, while still warm.

When cool, turn upside down and gently remove from tin. Cover cake with a couple of sheets of grease proof paper or parchment, wrap up, Wrap with tin foil and leave until you are ready to ice.

Roll out ready made almond paste/marzipan and royal icing. First brush cake with heated apricot jam. Cover with marzipan. Press down firmly. Trim with small knife so that cake is neat. You could leave it a day or two to dry before adding the royal icing, or just roll out the royal icing. Roll it over the rolling pin and gently roll it back over the cake. Press down. Cover sides. If it breaks, a little water will allow you to repair break.

Add a ribbon et voila! your own home made Christmas cake

. Delicious on Stephen's Day with a cup of tea. .


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