Hi, as you may have guessed my name is Paul, and I'm an enthusiastic cook now just in my 50's! living in Central London, UK.
I have a huge interest in all things food and cooking related. I hope to be able to share them with you here!
In our family the Christmas cake is made at the beginning of October in two parts. Firstly the fruit is boiled in water and orange juice and allowed to stand for several days (3 minimum) at room temperature before being baked in the traditional way and then stored for Christmas.
Rather than being decorated with marzipan and icing, the cake is finished with a glazed fruit and nut topping.The result is an amazingly dark rich and plump cake that is surprisingly light to eat.
Get the Christmas CD out and begin!
225 g butter
225 g sultanas
225 g raisins
110 g currants
55 g chopped mixed peel
55 g glace cherries, chopped
170 g dried apricots
55 g dried apples
110 g dried dates chopped
110 g dried peaches chopped
110 g dried pears chopped
225 g soft brown sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
110 ml water
110 ml orange juice
110 ml brandy
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
2 tablespoons black treacle
5 eggs beaten
300 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
for the fruit topping
340 g seville marmalade
340 g mixed dried fruit and nuts
With Bing warbling in the background (only joking!) place the butter, sultanas, raisin, currants, mixed peel, cherries, apricots, apples, dates, peaches, pears, sugar, lemon and orange juice and zest, water and orange juice into a large pan. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon.Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, removing from the heat immediately after.
Allow the contents to cool slightly before adding the brandy and spices. The smell at this stage is just amazing! Stir well and transfer into a large bowl. When completely cold, cover well and leave at room temperature for a minimum of 3 days (I leave mine considerably longer, but 3 is a safe compromise). Don't forget to stir daily!
Now for baking the cake. Pre-heat the oven to 170 C. Take a round 25 cm cake tin and line with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper.
Take the fruit mixture and stir in the treacle and beaten eggs. Sift the flour and the baking powder and stir into the cake mixture. It will appear slightly sloppy, but don't worry! Turn the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 4 and a half hours. Check to see if the skewer comes out clean, and you know the cake is done.
Now leave the cake to cool in the tin. When completely cold, wrap carefully in kitchen foil and leave to mature in a cool dry place.
On Christmas Eve remove the cake from the foil to add the final touches. Take the seville marmalade, add a tablespoon of water and heat in a saucepan until boiling. Pass through a sieve and allow to cool slightly before brushing generously over the top of the cake. Now arrange the dried fruits and nuts over the cake before applying carefully a second coating of the glaze.
A festive ribbon around the cake adds the final touch, but is not strictly necessary!
Serve on Christmas day, and I can assure you this is one Christmas cake that will not last into the New Year!