How to make a Traditional Christmas Cake: With only just under six weeks to go until the Big Day, that’s Christmas Day, now is the time to make your Christmas Cake. I make mine anytime between the end of October and Mid November, in an attempt to get it “fed” with plenty of brandy, which results in a moist, rich and fruity cake that all my family (and friends) love.
Traditional Christmas Cake
With only just under six weeks to go until the Big Day, that’s Christmas Day, now is the time to make your Christmas Cake. I make mine anytime between the end of October and Mid November, in an attempt to get it “fed” with plenty of brandy, which results in a moist, rich and fruity cake that all my family (and friends) love.
This cake is unashamedly simple, insofar as it is a very traditional cake that has been made by my mum and her mum before her, for decades – it’s got all the ingredients you need for a luxurious cake such as mixed dried fruit, eggs, butter, mixed peel, plump cherries, mixed spice, ground almonds and a slosh of brandy – it’s a fruity cake with a light texture, rather than a close, almost rubbery texture that some rich fruit cakes tend to have.
You need to start the cake the night before you intend to bake it, as the dried fruit needs to be plumped up with a good dousing of brandy, which is essential, of course. The next task is to make a baking paper liner for your cake tin, which not only acts as a paper cover for the cake after it is baked and is being stored, but also protects it from becoming over brown and burnt as it bakes for nearly 4 hours.
If you follow my easy step-by-step instructions below, you will be rewarded with a delicious, fruity and moist cake that will be the star of the Christmas tea time table. Please pop back in 3 to 4 weeks, when I will then be showing you how to make marzipan and Royal icing, and how to decorate your cake in suitable festive attire. Karen
Traditional Christmas Cake
(24 to 30 slices)
Mixed fruit soaked overnight:
100g glace cherries, halved
100g cut candied peel
350g self-raising white flour, sifted
2 x teaspoons mixed spice
100g ground almonds
4 large free-range eggs
75mls brandy mixed with 75mls whole milk
225g butter, unsalted
225g light brown sugar
23cm round cake tin or a 20.5cm square cake tin – must be loose bottomed
Butter for greasing
- Place the dried mixed fruit, peel and cherries in a bowl and add the brandy, mix to coat all the fruit with the brandy, cover with a tea towel and leave overnight.
- Prepare the tin for baking – place the tin on a sheet of baking paper and draw around it; cut the circle (or square) out – this will be the paper liner for the bottom of the cake. Measure the circumference of the cake tin, and cut out a long strip (or 2 strips) of paper – making sure the strips will sit well above the cake tin to protect the cake as it is baking. Turn over the bottom 5cm of the paper, and make even cuts all along the paper – see photos – this is make the strips sit in the cake tin easily and form a circle (or a square).
- Grease the tin with softened butter and place the side strips around the cake tin – then place the circle on top of the cut strips, see photos, to make a secure paper liner.
- Next day when you are ready to make and bake the cake, pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2.
- Sieve the flour, mixed spice and ground almonds together and beat the eggs with the brandy and milk mixture.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and add the flour and egg mixture alternately, a little at a time, gently folding them in with a wooden spoon.
- Add the brandied fruit and mix well before spooning the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Smooth the top with the back of a metal spoon and bake in the pre-heated oven for 3 ½ to 4 hours.
- Allow to cool in the cake tin before lifting out and placing in a cake tin with a fitted lid. Make several holes with a skewer all over the cake and “feed” the cake with brandy – pouring it down the holes. Repeat this every week until just before you want to marzipan and ice the cake.