It is now tradition that I make Christmas cake every year, even though I actually don't eat fruit cake. Basically, I make this solely for Hubby and my mother in law.
I usually use Delia's classic Christmas cake recipe but I thought I'd change it up a bit. This year I used Bourke street bakery's recipe. This is the first recipe I used from this book and I think it's a good one so it may be the one I make every year from now on. It's dense, rich, moist and full of flavour. The good thing about fruit cakes is that you can use any combination of fruit you like and you can use any alcohol of your choice. Just make sure you have the same total quantity of fruit in the recipe. The original recipe makes two 12.5 cm cakes but I decided to make one bigger one. I just cooked it a bit longer on a lower heat. Make sure to line the tin with double the amount of baking paper to avoid the sides burning.
It should be made 12 to 15 weeks before Christmas. The fruit needs to be soaked for 5 weeks and then the cake needs to be fed for 8 to 10 weeks. Unfortunately, I started the cake a little late. I started it 10 weeks before hand but Hubby still liked it and preferred it to last year's cake.
Fruit soak (make it 5 weeks in advance)
55g caster sugar
160 brandy ( I used port)
80g chopped pitted prunes
80g chopped pitted dates
55g mixed peel
135g chopped dried figs
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
15g ground almonds
110g unsalted butter
100g soft brown sugar
2 tsp honey
2 tbl treacle
1 tsp honey
3 eggs lightly beaten
150ml brandy for feeding (Hubby chose Pimms)
1. To make the fruit soak, put the sugar and water in a saucepan over a high heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat when sugar has dissolved.
2. In an air tight container, add all the fruit, the sugar syrup and port. Mix well to coat. Keep at room temperature for 5 weeks, feeding it with the alcohol of your choice every 3-4 days.
3. To make the cake, preheat oven 160degC and grease 20cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
4. Sift the flour, mixed spice and ground almonds together in a large bowl. In a mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar, honey, treacle and marmalade until pale.
5. Add the eggs a little at a time, making sure it's incorporated before adding more.
6. As soon as all the egg is combined, add 900g of the fruit soak and fold in.
7. Pour mixture into prepare tin and place on an oven tray and bake in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, turning the tin half way through. If the top starts to brown too much, cover with foil. Remove from oven and leave in the tin to cool.
8. Make about 20 - 30 holes in the cake with a skewer. I left my cake in the tin though the recipe says to place the cake on a layer of foil and baking paper and scrunching it up to the top of the cake to prevent leakage when feeding it. I just found it easier to leave it in the tin.
9. To feed the cake, brush over about 1 tsp ( or a capful) of your alcohol of choice. Repeat every 3 - 4 days for 8 - 10 weeks. Make sure the cake is well covered to stop evaporation, which will lead the cake to be dry. Keep the cake in an air tight container and keep in a cool dark place.
1. Turn cake out of the tin and trim the top to make it level.
2. Turn the cake upside down.
3. Plug any holes made by the fruit with marzipan or almond paste.
4. Brush some apricot preserve all over the cake. This will help the icing to stick to the cake
5. Roll out marizpan or almond paste to about 1 cm thick and cover the cake. Make sure to cover it completely and smooth it out as much as you can.
6. Roll out fondant or white icing to the same thickness and cover the marzipan icing.
7. Decorate as you please.
I think this will be the Christmas Cake I will make every year.