This post is for all of you that have not made a Christmas cake yet! It’s the week before Christmas and lots of cookery books are telling us we should have made the cake in October !  Actually, this delicious cake is popular with my family all year round. It travels really well and so is perfect for picnics and those holidays where you cater for yourselves.

So, if you feel inspired to make a Christmas cake, this one will be perfect for eating next week. All you will need to turn it into a Christmas cake is the ready to roll out marzipan and royal icing.

The secret to a delicious, moist cake is the amount of alcohol (brandy) you use and also, how long you soak the dried fruit in the brandy.  I cover the fruit with a clean tea towel and then place it in a cold pantry for up to 3 days.  Every now and again, stir the fruit.

Assemble all your ingredients and make sure you can be around for 2 – 2.1/2 hours. As ever, with baking, the correct tin size is crucial and this one requires a deep 20 cm tin.  Line the base and sides with bacoglide or baking parchment / greaseproof paper. You will need an extra circle of bacoglide / paper for the top of the cake to stop it getting too brown.

Ingredients –
1lb currants
6 oz sultanas
6 oz raisins
2 oz glace cherries – chopped
5 fl. oz brandy
8 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
8 oz unsalted butter- softened
8 oz soft brown sugar
4 large free range eggs
3  oz chopped almonds
2 tblsp black treacle – Tip: Place the tin in a very low oven to make the treacle easier to extract.
Grated rinds of 1 lemon and 1 orange

Preparation –
Soak all the fruit in the brandy for at least one day – you’ll get a better result if you leave them longer than one day.

Method –
Pre-heat the oven to 140C.  Aga users will use the simmering oven for up to 3.1/2 hours. 

Sift the flour, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together. I use a kitchenaid, an essential for any keen baker. This is the most important process and the mixture should be pale, light and fluffy.  Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then slowly add to the creamed butter and sugar.  Don’t panic if it curdles.  Add a little of the flour to stabilise the mixture. 
When the eggs have all been added, take a large spoon and fold in the flour/spices gently. Stir in the soaked fruit and then the nuts, treacle and grated orange and lemon zest. If you feel like it, add a little more brandy!
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and even it out with a spoon.  Place your disc of bacoglide/paper on top. Cut a small hole out of the centre of the paper so the top cooks
After 2 1/2 hours the cake should feel firm with a slight ‘give’ to the top when gently pressed. Let it go completely cold then wrap it in foil or store in a tin.  You can now eat it as a luxury fruit cake or use marzipan and icing to make it into a Christmas/Celebration cake.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – Turkey and Leek Pie