Is it time for Christmas cake yet?

After the turmoil of last Christmas, I think it’s time to focus on an old-fashioned winter celebration at home with friends and family.

As “getting out” becomes more difficult due to dwindling funds, hospitality staff shortages, and rising costs, now is the time to break out your old pie tins and spread the love!

While home-baked cakes may not be the cheapest compared to a store-bought cake, they will be made with love and care and will be infinitely better for it.

Although one can make a cake from September, there is still time in November for it to ripen in all its splendor. Soaking the fruit beforehand gives a much fuller, moister cake as opposed to feeding the cake after baking, so this method is ideal if you haven’t already. I prefer just plain cake, but by all means make it with almond paste and royal icing if you like!

Essential kit – 20 cm x 8 cm tin and parchment paper.

Christmas Cake

Note on ingredients; You can use a mix of your favorite dried fruits instead of the ones I have listed, use what you have! The same goes for sugar: if you have muscovado or demerara, use that instead, and you can replace the brandy or apple juice with the sherry.

Ingredients:

  • 350g of raisins
  • 150g currants
  • 75 g candied shell
  • 200ml sherry
  • 150g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 150 g coconut sugar
  • Two eggs (large)
  • 75 g ground almonds
  • 150 g of common flour
  • Two heaped teaspoons of mixed spices

Put the raisins, currants, skin and sherry in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Stir well, put the lid on and leave for at least 48 hours (preferably 72), stirring occasionally.

If you don’t have to wait that long, the steeping time can be sped up to 24 hours by bringing the fruit and sherry to near a boil in a saucepan, but I find it absorbs more with the slow method.

The night before making the cake, take the butter out of the fridge to soften. The next day, grease the cake pan abundantly and line it twice with parchment paper. Put on a baking sheet and set the oven to 150°C with a rack slightly lower than middle. Drain the fruit and reserve the juices.

Sift the flour into a small bowl and beat the eggs in another.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. If it shows any sign of curdling, add a tablespoon of sifted flour (or more if necessary) and beat until smooth.

When all the egg is incorporated, start adding the drained fruit. Use about a quart to start with and mix well. Add the mixed spice to the flour and add about a third; stir well to mix. Continue with this: a quarter of the fruit, a third of the flour, until the last quarter of the fruit remains.

Put the fruit in the mixture and place the ground almonds on top, then mix both together. Finally mix the juices that have remained from the marinade of the fruit. I really find a better wooden spoon for this as it flips the mixture beautifully without breaking the fruit.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan carefully to avoid damaging the parchment paper. Smooth to the edges with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Bake for an hour, then lower the oven to 130°C and bake for another hour and a quarter. Try with a toothpick and when it comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan.

Wrap in parchment paper and store in an airtight tin until needed.

If you want, you can feed it by drizzling it with more sherry a couple of times before it’s needed.

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