Desserts

Christmas Cake | Traditional Festive Treat |

This Traditional Christmas Cake recipe has been handed down over four generations. Having graced the family table since the early 1900’s it is now a pleasure to share with you. The hidden secret is the additional of Calvados. The Apple Brandy brings a tangy sweetness to the cake.

Now is the time to get soaking your fruit. The longer you soak the better the taste. Infuse for at least a week. Topping up with more of the alcohol may be required as the fruit absorbs the liquid.

All the dried fruit was dried in the sun to remove the moisture to preserve the fruit. Keep adding brandy, sherry or Calvados until your fruit increases by at least a third. A little every day. Also, leave to infuse at room temperature.

Don’t worry if you have a little liquid left over at the bottom of your bowl. You are going to add a lot of dry ingredients next and this will absorb the liquid and make for a rich flavorsome cake.

The Great Soak

Soaking the dried fruit well really makes this cake the joy it is to eat. Stir it every day, and feed it every two days or so, with 20 ml (1 oz) of each liquor until its stops absorbing. Somewhere around day 6, it will be drunk enough and finally give up.

We strongly recommend testing the flavor by scooping a spoon full on a small cut of strong goats cheese. When you find you want to eat all of the soak with as much cheese as you can buy, then it’s ready. If you or a loved one to eat it all by over cheesing, start over, and we wish you luck.

Christmas Cake Traditionally Made

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By Marc Spendlove-Kruger Serves: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 2 hours

This Traditional Christmas Cake recipe has been handed down over four generations. Having graced the family table since the early 1900’s it is now a pleasure to share with you. The hidden secret is the additional of Calvados. The Apple Brandy brings a tangy sweetness to the cake.

Ingredients

  • 450g (1lb) currants
  • 175g (6oz) sultanas
  • 175g (6oz) raisins
  • 50g (2oz) chopped glacé cherries
  • 50g (2oz) mixed chopped candied peel
  • 100ml (3 fl oz) brandy
  • 25ml (1.5 fl oz) dry sherry
  • 50ml (1.5 fl oz) Calvados ( Apple Brandy)
  • 225g (8oz) spreadable butter
  • 225g dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ level teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 dessert spoon black treacle | 2 full teaspoons of molasses
  • 50g (2oz) Chopped almonds
  • 50g (2oz) Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

Instructions

1

Combine all the dried fruit ingredients and the alcohol, in a glass or china bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave for at least a week.

2

Stir it every day, and feed it every two days or so, with 20 ml (1 oz) of each liquor until its stops absorbing. Somewhere around day 6, it will be drunk enough and finally give up.

3

We strongly recommend testing the flavor by scooping a spoon full on a small cut of strong goats cheese. When you find you want to eat all of the soak with as much cheese as you can buy, then it's ready. If you or a loved one eat it all by over cheesing, start over, and we wish you luck.

4

When you’re ready to cook the cake, preheat the oven to 140°C, conventional oven- usually 20 degrees less of you are using a fan oven.

5

Make a collar union greaseproof paper or folded newspaper, tie with a string around a 23cm tin | 9-inch springform pan to ensure that the outside of the tin doesn’t caramelize during baking.

6

In a large bowl add the butter and sugar and beat with an electric hand whisk until everything is smooth and fluffy.

7

Add the eggs and continue beating till you end up with a light, fluffy paste.

8

Now all you do is sift the flour, salt, and spices into mixing bowl then stir well to combine.

9

Add the treacle (warm it a little first to make it easier)

10

Now gradually fold in the Great Soak fruit mixture, chopped nuts and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.

11

Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of the spoon and, if you don’t intend to decorate the cake with marzipan and icing, lightly drop the blanched almonds in circles over the surface.

12

Finally, take a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-sized hole in the center (for extra protection during the cooking) and place this not on top of the mixture itself but on the rim of the brown paper.

13

Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 2 hours until it feels springy in the center when lightly touched. Sometimes it can take 30–45 minutes longer than this, but in any case, don’t look at it for 2 hours.

14

Depending on the diameter of your tin, this can take a lot less baking – I usually check in the oven after two hours and test the cake with a knife – if it comes out clean then you are done.

15

Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

Decorate with almonds and glace cherries using a little melted apricot jam to hold everything in place - omit this step if you intend to ice. Although intended for Christmas this cake can be made as a treat the entire year - It is a great base for the traditional English Wedding Cake

Maturing the Cake

When it’s cold, ‘feed’ it by making small holes in the top and bottom with a cocktail stick and spooning in a couple of tablespoons of brandy, then wrap it in parchment-lined foil and store in an airtight tin | Look for a cookie or biscuit tin that is more then 23cm or 9 inches in diameter, and put the cake in it, with parchment paper on the bottom. You can now ‘feed’ it at odd intervals Ideally this is done for 1 to two months. the cake needs to mature.

Christmas day, carefully heft it out and ice it with a simple sugar icing or marzipan. Serve with a good strong goats cheese if you like.

Wine Matching

The cake is great served with a white port. Our favorite is serving it with a strong cheddar or a ripe blue cheese such as Stilton. Enjoy whichever way you decide – enjoy. Take advantage of the offer from Naked Wine. Their Christmas collection contains a great white port.

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