Christmas bakingDecember 22, 2008 3:09 pm General, home
I made what is shaping up to be a yummy Christmas cake this weekend – it’s just out of the oven & smells gorgeous!
Ingredients (all weights approximate, mix & match to taste & availability for fruits & nuts, total quantities are what’s important):
- 300g currants
- 100g raisins
- 75g sultanas
- 75g prunes (can try dates or dried apricots also)
- 75g cherries (halved & stoned)
- 75g mixed peel
- Grated rind of 1 orange & 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons port
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1.5 teaspoons mixed spice (I used cinnamon, cloves, muscat)
- 200g plain flour
- 2 – 3g baking powder (if you don’t have any, use half-in-half self-raising & plain flour)
- 175g butter
- 175g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 50g chopped or ground almonds
- 100g mixed chopped nuts (to taste – walnuts, hazelnuts, and my personal favourite: pine nut kernels)
- 1 tablespoon Golden Syrup (I didn’t have any, so used 2 tablespoons Maple syrup + 1 tablespoon honey, seems to work OK)
Preparation (night before cooking):
In a big bowl, put all the dried fruit, and soak it in boiling water (15 minutes). Empty water and repeat. This softens the fruit and lets the alcohol work more effectively. After emptying the water the 2nd time, add in the grated rind, the port and brandy (enough to moisten the fruit), and stir the fruit well so that the alcohol gets on everything uniformly. Also, take the eggs and butter out of the fridge to let them come up to room temperature. Leave overnight.
Grease a 20cm baking tin with butter, line it with greaseproof paper (or, as I did, tinfoil if you don’t have any), and grease the lining. Heat up your oven to a low heat – I put it at 120 degrees Celsuis (equiv. gas mark 1). Beware fan assisted ovens – they’ll dry out the cake too quickly. Use the mode with no fan.
Chop the nuts, and put them and the mixed spices in the flour. Mix well.
Break the four eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Cream the butter and sugar together in a big mixing bowl (must be able to comfortably hold all the ingredients). Slowly add and mix the eggs (one spoon at a time) into the creamed sugar & butter. You don’t want the mixture to curdle, so make sure that each spoon of egg is well mixed in and you get something like a paste. Once all the egg is in, add the golden syrup (or, in my case, maple syrup & honey), and stir it in.
Fold in the spiced flour, mixing well. There’s no rush, add in the flour bit by bit to ensure a regular paste.
Then add in the soaked fruit (which should have grown nicely plump overnight). Mix until you have a nice regular consistency.
Spoon the mixture into your baking tin, flatten the top, and then bang the bottom & sides a bit to ensure there are no air bubbles inside. You can even drop the cake tin from about 20 – 30cm high to get them all out.
Bake the cake for at least 3 hours. Mine cooked for 5 hours (the oven could have been a little hotter). For the teetotalers in the audience, don’t worry, the alcohol burns off in the oven.
Ideally, bake your cake in November, and take it out of the tin every week, poke some holes in it with a skewer, and regularly feed it a drop of brandy, port, rum or whisky. The fruit will soak it up & be lovely & tender (but slightly alcoholic) by Christmas. In my case, we’re just going to eat it