With Christmas coming up, why not try this excellent family recipe for a traditional Christmas Cake. I'm sure it will please all the family!
- 8oz/225g sultanas
- 8oz/225g raisins
- 2oz/55g candied peel
- 2oz/55g cherries
- 6oz/170g unsalted butter
- 6oz/170g dark brown sugar
- 3 medium size eggs
- 6oz 170g self raising flour
- Half a teaspoon mixed spice
- Half teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2oz 55g ground almonds
- One tablespoon black treacle
- Grated rind of half an orange and half a lemon
- Pinch salt
- Five to six tablespoons brandy
- 1lb/450g ready to roll marzipan
- Apricot jam to spread under marzipan
- Icing sugar to sprinkle over rolling pin
- 1lb 2oz/550g icing sugar
- 3 medium egg whites
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Weigh out raisins and sultanas and wash and destalk. Place on a baking tray and pat with kitchen paper to absorb any moisture. Place in a pre heated oven gas mark 1/2 or 130ºC for approx fifteen mins to allow fruit to swell and dry.
In a large mixing bowl, place fruit, mixed peel, cherries and two tablespoons brandy. Mix well and cover with tea towel and leave to marinade in a cool place overnight.
Preheat oven gas mark 2/150ºC
Take an 8 inch/20cm round cake tin and line with two layers of baking parchment on the bottom and two layers of baking parchment around the inside, making sure you have approx one and a half inches/4cm higher than the top of the tin.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of sieved flour for each egg added. Fold in remaining sieved flour into the mixture. Add ground almonds. Add prepared dried fruit to the mixture and add vanilla essence, mixed spice and citrus rinds. Stir well until dropping consistency mixture is obtained.
Transfer mixture into the cake tin. Place two layers of baking parchment around the outside of the tin, making sure it is an inch and a half higher than the tin. Tie securely with twine.
Place cake mixture into the oven and cook for approx two hours.
Remove from the oven and insert a skewer into the cake. If the skewer comes away clean, then the cake is cooked. If not, return to oven for another twenty minutes, then repeat process until cooked.
Place cake tin onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Remove from the tin, discarding outside baking parchment. Leave inside baking parchment around the cake. Make some holes with a skewer and sprinkle a tablespoon of brandy over the cake.
Wrap the cake in aluminium foil and store in a cool dark place. After one week, sprinkle a further tablespoon of brandy over the cake replacing the foil. Repeat the following week.
To marzipan the cake...
Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan. With a pastry brush, spread the jam over the top and sides of the cake.Cut a third of the marzipan and place on a chopping board to roll out into a circle. Put to one side. With the left over marzipan, roll out as before and shape to cover the remaining sides of the cake. Place marzipan onto cake ensuring no gaps show and is evenly spread all over. Leave for four days minimum before icing. Place cake in an airtight tin. Do not recover with aluminium foil.
Place egg whites into a mixing bowl and lightly whisk, stir in icing sugar slowly, until icing falls thickly from the spoon. Take an electric whisk and whisk for approximately ten minutes until the mixture creates soft peaks. Add lemon juice.
Using a palette knife, spread the icing evenly over the cake. Use a smaller palette knife to make peaks from the icing, producing a snow like effect. Alternatively, pipe the icing through a piping bag, using appropriate nozzles as required. Leave overnight to dry out under a protective food net.