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One of the most iconic bakes that exists, the christmas cake… homemade and scrumptious filled with fruit, and soaked in brandy!
So lets the honest now, I’m mentioning Christmas in… September. I know, it’s extremely overkill, but once you realise this is about a Christmas Cake hopefully you will understand why!
Christmas baking is one of my favourite things to do as I adore the theming of Christmas, but this recipe is something that has been waiting for years and years, as I just don’t really like Christmas cake… yup.
So, I know that’s not the best thing to start with on a recipe post, but genuinely? I’m not the biggest fan. However, my family adore Christmas cake and they have no tested and tasted SO MANY CAKES so I could post this recipe.
I have a cheats Christmas pudding in my second book, as typically with bakes like this you need to take your time. They are recipes that develop over the time because of the alcohol that you put into the bake.
However, for the cheats Christmas pudding I thought about the people who, like me, often forget to create a bake like these within the time frame. This Christmas cake recipe however?! Oh that’s the opposite. I am bang on the correct time for this beauty.
If you don’t like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding though, and you want an amazing showstopper, you can try my other bakes such as my Rocky Road Christmas Pudding – this is my go to.
Christmas cake? Yes, Christmas cake. There’s a lot of opinions on when is best to make it, so its entirely up to you. Yes, it will work if you make it slightly later on in the year, but it’s best to crack on as soon as possible.
I’ve always been told whether its from the notes in my Granny’s baking bible, or just by word of mouth, that 12 weeks before Christmas is the best time to create a Christmas cake. And guess what, it’s 12 weeks now.
You can do it 10 weeks before, 8 weeks, 6 weeks etc… just the nearer to Christmas you make it, the less feeding time you have. You can store and wrap the Christmas cake really well after feeding in parchment paper and tin foil, in a metal cake tin (plastic tubs may make them sweat).
When it comes to the fruit of the Christmas cake, you can cater it more to what you prefer, but I used a broader amount as that’s what works best for my trusty taste testers, as it gives more flavour and textures.
I use a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants, dried cranberries, glaze cherries, and mixed peel. The total weight is about 1075g worth of fruits, which is a lot – but you need a lot for a decent Christmas cake!
If you don’t have slightly the correct amount of something, you can use other fruits as well. You can also buy ready mixed dried fruit for fruit cakes so if you don’t want to buy a lot of separate packets, then that is totally fine.
The other ingredients
When it comes to the rest of the ingredients, it does sound like quite a bit. I like to add the zest and juice of lemon for a zingy flavour, as well as flavours such as mixed spice, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. I also add a bit of vanilla.
The butter is important, but I melt it into the fruity mixture so that it melts down well. The sugar is light brown soft sugar, and I use some black treacle (you can use golden syrup). The flour is standard, I use self raising instead of plain flour and baking powder, and some ground almonds.
If you don’t want to use nuts, you can use more flour instead of the ground almonds. Also, mix through the eggs… I use 5 medium, but four large eggs will also work super well.
The big part of the Christmas cake… the alcohol you use. You can vary this to again your preference but it’s often a reasonably strong spirit alcohol that you need and want to use. I went for brandy in this recipe.
You can use whiskey, rum, brandy, amaretto etc but you can honestly just pick your favourite, the cheapest, the nicest, etc… it’s entirely up to you. You mix the alcohol into the fruit at the start of making the Christmas cake, and then you use it to feed the cake until you eat it.
If you want an alcohol free cake, I tend to use tea to soak the fruit (but a lot of people use apple juice instead.). Brew the tea to the same quantity and soak the fruit in the same way.
So for me, the peak time to create a cake like this is 12 weeks before you want it. It takes a fair few hours to make on the first day, because the bake time is so long, but after that it’s not that bad at all.
I would say it takes about half an hour to make the mixture, and then its about 2 hours to bake the cake. It takes a few hours to cool down properly, and then you need to wrap the cake well.
I like to feed my cake with a few tablespoons of brandy every two weeks up until Christmas. If you want to decorate your Christmas cake, you do not want to feed it just before as it will make it wet and sticky so slightly annoying.
If you make your cake nearer to Christmas, that is totally okay. You really don’t need to make it 12 weeks before, so don’t stress if you can’t make it this week.
- 200 g raisins
- 200 g sultanas
- 200 g currants
- 200 g dried cranberries
- 200 g glace cherries
- 75 g mixed peel
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 2 lemons
- 175 ml alcohol (I used brandy)
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 200 g light brown soft sugar
- 50 g treacle
- 200 g self raising flour
- 100 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 5 medium eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Add the raisins, sultanas, currants, dried cranberries, glacé cherries, mixed peel, lemon zest, lemon juice, brandy, butter, light brown sugar and treacle to a large bowl
- Mix these together, and then heat in the microwave for 5 minutes on high, letting the butter melt, and stir together well.
- Alternatively, add all of the ingredients to a large pan, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Leave the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 150ºc/130ºc fan
- Once cooled, add the self raising flour, ground almonds, mixed spice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and mix until combined
- Pour into a deep 8" cake tin that is lined on the based and sides well. You don't want any tin showing as it may get stuck
- Pour the mixture into the lined tin, and bake for 2 hours. Keep an eye on it towards the end, if its browning too much, cover lightly with foil
- Once baked, remove from the oven and prick with a fork. Spoon over 2-3 more brandy and cool completely.
- Once cooled, wrap in clean baking parchment, and foil, and store for 2 weeks and feed with 2-3 more tbsps of brandy. Repeat every two weeks until Christmas.
- I make my Christmas cake 12 weeks before Christmas, but it can be done nearer to the time
- I feed my cake every 2 weeks
- You can freeze the cake, wrapped in baking parchment and then tin foil, for 3+ months
- I use brandy, but you can use any rich spirit (read the blog post)
- Try to store the cake wrapped well in baking parchment and then foil, in a cake tin. Sealed tubs can make it sweat.
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