Traditional Christmas Cake
For some, the best part of the Christmas dinner is the Traditional Christmas Cake. Rich with dried fruits and often flavoured with rum or brandy, Traditional Christmas Cake is a perfect ending for a festive holiday meal.
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A decorated Traditional Christmas Cake Wikipedia
Note: Traditional Christmas Cake is best made ahead and allowed to mature before icing and decorating.
*10 oz/ about 2 1/2 c plain/AP flour (plus extra if needed)
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
*1/4 tsp ground cloves (or use 1 3/4 tsp mixed spice for the above spices)
*1/2 lb/ 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
*1 1/2 c light brown sugar
*4 large eggs
*zest of 1 lemon or orange, grated
*1 c sultanas/golden raisins
*1 c currants
*1 c raisins
*1/2 c mixed peel
*1/2 c glace cherries, chopped
*1/2 c slivered or chopped almonds
*4 oz brandy or dark rum (plus additional)
*icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar
*marzipan (or almond paste) and prepared white fondant icing to cover
*decorations such as ribbon, silver dragees or glace fruits (optional)
Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat the eggs and lemon/orange zest in a smaller bowl.
Add the egg/zest mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. Add a spoon or two of flour if the mixture threatens to separate.
Pile all the fruits and nuts into a large bowl. Mix in a little flour and toss well to coat all the pieces. Fold the rest of the flour into the egg/butter/sugar mix. Add the floured fruit and nuts. Finally add the brandy or rum and mix well. Adjust flour if needed to get a thick batter.
Line the base and sides of a deep 8-inch round or square tin with baking parchment and butter well. Pour/spoon the cake mixture in and level the top. Make a shallow ‘well’ in the top of the batter so the cake top remains level while baking.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Bake the cake for about 1 hour. Reduce the temperature to 275 F and continue baking for another 3 hours or so. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, tent it loosely with foil.
Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Remove the baking parchment. Additional brandy or rum can be drizzled over the cooled cake. Wrap airtight and store in a cool dry place until ready to decorate.
To finish (the day before serving):
Unwrap the cake and place on a cake board. Brush lightly with a pastry brush to remove crumbs. If necessary trim the top level. Brush top and sides with melted, sieved apricot jam, adding a little water if needed to spread. Roll out the marzipan/almond paste on a board sprinkled with icing sugar. Neatly cover the top and sides of the cake with the paste, trimming as needed. Save the scraps. Smooth down all seams. Cover the cake with a clean tea towel and let sit in a cool place for a day to dry the almond paste.
On serving day:
Remove the tea towel. Roll out the prepared fondant/white icing on a board sprinkled with icing sugar. Place the sheet over the marzipan/almond paste. Make adjustments as needed to get a smooth coat. Trim excess and smooth down the top. Decorate as desired with ribbons, dragees, glace fruit, marzipan or icing rolled out and cut with canape cutters. Clean crumbs off the cake board and serve. Store leftover Traditional Christmas cake in an airtight container.
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