Imagine this; you’re sat watching ‘The One Show’ and your wife casually says that she’s too busy with Christmas to bother making a Christmas Cake this year. What do you do, how should you respond? Well, you could fall back on the time honoured response and offer to buy one; or this year you could be different and you could volunteer to bake it yourself. Yes you could, why not be a Hunter, Gatherer and Star Baker. It’s not that difficult with a little bit of preparartion and organisation.

You’ll do it! Good for you. Okay then, making the decision is the hard part. Before we crack open our first egg it might be helpful to understand a few ground rules, a few pearls of wisdom that might normally bounce off that male ego.

So a few pertinent ground rules, think of it as a game of snooker – you have to know in which order to pot the colours. 

  • A Christmas Cake is not like assembling Ikea furniture. Don’t throw away the instructions as being unnecessary, believe me, if you have two eggs left over it will make a difference.
  • Do you fully understand how the cooker works, if not ask the kids – never ask your wife, that way lies only years of ridicule. If you don’t know if you have a fan oven, then perhaps this might not be for you.
  • You’ll need to find the kitchen scales and choose your weight measurement – metric or imperial – and stick with it. Five gallons of petrol is not the same as five litres of petrol. Right!
  • When it comes to adding the whisky it needn’t be your 10 year old single malt; it’s for the cake not the star-baker.
  • Oh yes, that reminds me – you’re not Paul Hollywood.
  • Free expression was a movement in the 1960’s, leave it there.
  • Don’t wear a pinny.
  • Clean up as you go, or you’ll be reminded of it for the rest of your life.
  • Finally, make sure you set aside enough time to complete the job.
  • Oh, and finally, finally – print off the recipe and keep it close to hand for easy reference .

Okay then clear the decks and let’s go for it! This Christmas Cake can be made at the last minute, but it’s less stressful, if you  make it a few days before the big day. This will allow you time to “feed the cake” with a few drops of whisky. I have included a photo of the cake, this is roughly what we are aiming at, but yours could be square. In fact the photo really just to make the post more Chrismassy.

So, we need what is called a list of ingredients as set out below. You can get most , if not all of this stuff, at the village shop. As for tools you will need a large saucepan, a large mixing bowl, kitchen scales, a measuring jug, an electric mixer, a 20cm cake tin, a wire rack and the rarest of all ingredients – a little bit of patience. 

Christmas Cake

Ingredients

  • • 750 g mixed dried fruit
  • • 150 g glacé cherries
  • • 225 ml stout, (Guinness will do.)
  • • 100 ml whisky
  • • 75 ml orange juice
  • • 1 orange, zest only
  • • 2 tablesp black treacle
  • • 200 g butter, slightly soft
  • • 200 g muscovado sugar
  • • 250 g plain flour
  • • 1 heaped teasp baking powder
  • • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • • 1 1/2 teasp mixed spice
  • • 75 g brazil nuts, or almonds, chopped

Method

  1. Are you ready? Right - let's go. Make sure you have all the ingredients to hand. Place the dried fruits, cherries, stout, whisky, orange juice, zest and treacle into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring as you go. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Do not sample the whisky. Then transfer the mixturer to a bowl and chill overnight - but don't worry if you haven't got the time; just leave it soaking as long as you can.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140C/Gas 2 or your equivalent Fan temperature.
  3. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment or a shaped silicone sheet. Look in the bottom kitchen draw - there's always a bit of parchment paper somewhere.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients except the nuts in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (You can use the electric mixer if you wish). Beat until smooth, then fold in the soaked fruit and the nuts.
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top, making a slight dip towards the centre. Bake for 3 hours, then check and cover the top with more paper or silicone if it is over-browning. Bake for a further 30 minutes to an hour, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. (No sticky goo on the knife)
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so in the tin, then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. When cool wrap the cake in more baking parchment paper and then in foil, and store in a tin somewhere cool and dry. If you want to decorate the cake, you'll need to ask somebody else, this is way beyond the scope of this post. However, this is where "feeding the cake" comes in. Every couple of weeks (or more often, if you're short of time), unwrap the cake, make a few holes in the top with a skewer, spoon a little brandy or whisky over the top and let it soak in. This keeps the cake moist - and makes it taste even better. Rewrap the cake and store. This might be a good time to stand back and admire your work, and yes, sample, what remains, of that whisky!
  8. Merry Christmas to you.

Posted on: 14, December, 2015 | Author: editor
Categories: Recipes

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