Every year we make our Christmas cake in the October half term holiday. This stems back from my Nana, she used to bake them for her family and all her sisters - it was a mamoth task!
I 've used quite a few recipes over the years from the fancy ones that involve hard to find exotic dried fruits, jams, melted chocolate... but these things don't add mech to the finished cake. This is my favourite recipe. I've tweaked it to suit our family's tastes. Although most recipes suggest using sherry, whiskey or madeira I use brandy like my Nana always did. I never use candied peel because my husband doesn't like it.
Having spent a frustrating time trying to find the scrap of paper I'd
written and crossed the recipe out on, I'm typing it here so next year I'll know
where to find it.
The beauty of this recipe is that as long as you stick to the same weight of dry ingredients (the fruit and spices) and the same volume of alcohol you can change them to suite yourself.
275g dried figs, roughly chopped
100g glace cherries, halved
125ml brandy, plus extra to feed the cake after baking
125g softened butter
125g muscovado sugar
130g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/2 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
grated zest of 1 lemon
50g whole almonds
25g crystallised ginger, chopped
Put all the fruit and the brandy in a bowl, mix, cover and leave to soak overnight.
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with two layers of baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light - this takes quite a while! Gradually add the eggs, beat well after each one to stop the mixture curdling.
In another bowl mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds, salt and fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the fruit and any brandy left in the bowl, then the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger. Give it a stir.
At this point I get everyone in the family to stir the mix, does anyone else do this? Its always been a tradition in our house.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Make a small hollow in the middle of the cake to prevent it doming during baking.
Bake the cake for an hour then cover it with foil to stop the top of the cake getting too dark. Bake the cake for another 40 minutes then check it. Its done when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Check every 10 minutes until its cooked.
Cool the cake in the tin. make a few holes in the cake with the skewer and brush more brandy over the cake. Leave the parchment around the cake and wrap the whole thing in foil. Feed the cake with a little beandy each week until you are ready to odecorate it.
This is last year's effort,
I'm not sure how we will decorate this year's cake. I liked the icing candy canes but they were what is known in Yorkshire as 'a right faff'' to make! What are your Christmas traditions?