Monday, 29 October 2012

Baking The Christmas Cake

Yesterday afternoon I baked my Christmas cake, I feel all lovely and organised now. This is however the only thing I have done in preparation, I haven't even begun to think about the shopping and presents yet. The only reason I like to get the cake baked early is so that it has plenty of time to mature and soak up all the brandy that it will get fed with over the next few weeks. This results in a fantastically dark, rich and moist cake with a slight hint of booziness to hit, but as it will only be adults eating my cake it doesn't really matter. I mentioned last week when I was getting the fruit ready for soaking that I use my Mum's recipe. When my brothers and I were little she didn't use to feed the cake as much brandy as she does now. In fact I think I might be guilty of making my cake slightly more alcoholic than hers. It's the only time I ever buy brandy as I'm not overly keen on it, but a little splash with some hot honey, ginger and lemon works wonders for a cold though.



This cake takes a long time to bake so it's important to prepare your tin well before baking. You need to grease and double line the tin with greaseproof paper and then tie a brown paper collar around it as well. The collar needs to be a few cm above the top of the tin. All of this effort is worth it though as it prevents the cake from cooking too quickly or burning. 

You will need to get your biggest mixing bowl out for this cake. My Mum has a huge Mason Cash bowl that she's had for as long as I can remember. I really want one but I can't afford it at the moment, so I had to make do with the big plastic bowl I bought from Wilkinson's over 6 years ago when I was still living in university halls. It's lasted well and is the right size for making a big cake but it doesn't look as nice in my kitchen, however it is a lot easier to lift when it's full of cake mix than a heavy stoneware bowl.

 




Ingredients - makes 1 20cm (8 inch) cake

6oz unsalted butter - softened
6oz soft dark brown sugar - I like to use Billington's molasses sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
4 eggs
1oz ground almonds
10oz self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 quantity of soaked fruit - see here for amounts

  • Prepare a 20cm (8 inch) round deep loose bottomed cake tin by double lining with greaseproof paper and tying a brown paper collar around the outside. Preheat the oven to 170C (160 fan).
  • Cream together the butter, sugar and treacle until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, the mix will look a little curdled after the last egg but don't worry.
  • Fold in the almonds, flour and spices and then stir through the fruit trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. 
  • Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin, level the top and make a small dip in the centre to avoid a peak on top of the cake.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 160C (150 fan) and bake for a further 90 minutes. Check the cake 30 minutes before the end of baking time to make sure the top isn't browning too quickly, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper or foil if it is. 
  • Poke a skewer into the cake and when it comes out clean the cake is done. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack, remove the brown paper and leave the cake in the tin until it's cold. 
  • Remove the cold cake from the tin and poke a few holes over the top with a skewer. Sit the cake on a large piece of greaseproof paper and pour a capful of brandy over the top of the cake. Wrap the cake tightly in the greaseproof paper and then wrap again in foil. Leave the cake in a cool, dry place to mature and feed weekly or as often as you remember/want to with a capful of brandy. 
 
 I'll be back with another Christmas cake post a few days before Christmas day to show you how I decorate mine. Of course it is all down to personal preference, I use royal icing on mine and usually decorate it with some leftover marzipan shapes. I will also be posting a recipe to make your own marzipan closer to Christmas as well.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, your cake looks lovely, am sure it will taste delicious x

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  2. It's a good job I don't live in Italy anymore otherwise I would have had a huge pang of homesickness looking at this! It's exactly as my mum makes, even down to the utensils you've got in your photos(yes I'm afraid we use the big plastic mixing bowl too, it's lighter as you say). Anyway, gorgeous looking cake, I bet it filled the whole house with a wonderful aroma too! Lovely!

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