Now is the perfect time for baking your Christmas cake to ensure it is wonderfully full of flavour on Christmas Day!
110g/4oz glace cherries
50g/2oz mixed peel
225g/8oz brown sugar
5 eggs beaten
275g/10oz of plain white flour
2 tsp sweet mixed spice
110g/4oz ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 orange plus juice
7 fl oz beer or sherry
1 large tablespoonful of black treacle
Use an 8″ square or 9″ round cake tin
- Set oven 170c/325f/gas mark 3.
- Grease and double line the tin with greaseproof paper.
- Cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Slice the cherries, toss in some of the measured flour and mix with the rest of the fruit.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed mixture. (If the mixtures starts to curdle add a little of the flour.)
- Fold in the flour, mixed spice, orange zest, beer/sherry and orange juice, and black treacle. (If mixture is still stiff a small amount of milk can be added.)
- Add the fruit and ground almonds.
- Put mixture in prepared tin and make a hollow in the middle.
- Bake for 2 ½ hours, or until skewer emerges clean from the middle of the cake.
- Cover the top of the cake with brown paper for the final hour if required.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack. Once completely cold wrap in foil and store in an airtight container in a dry cool place until Christmas. Every two weeks unwrap the cake to “feed” it: prick the top with a long skewer and spoon over 1-2 tablespoons brandy. Reseal and continue to store.
Quick easy steps to decorating your cake
- Lightly dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out a circle of golden marzipan roughly 1/2cm thickness and big enough to cover the entire cake (or half the cake if you want to keep some of it to have with cheese as a light supper).
- Brush the cake with some warmed apricot jam, cover with the rolled out marzipan and trim any excess.
- Lightly dust the surface once more with icing sugar and roll out some ready-to-roll icing in the same way as the marzipan. Brush the marzipan very lightly with a little water then drape the icing over it. Smooth out using your hands working from the centre to the edges and down the sides. Finally trim any excess.
- Allow the icing to harden for 24 hours and then arrange your cake decorations around and on top of the cake.