Tomorrow is Stir-Up Sunday! For me, this is the real start of the festive season. I know it’s traditional to make a Christmas pudding this weekend, but I usually make a Christmas cake; I love the decoration element, and how easily it can be shared around family and friends to spread a little festive joy. Over the years I’ve tried out various different recipes for Christmas cake, but this is the best one I’ve found. It doesn’t involve soaking fruit overnight, and the final result is gorgeously fruity, moreish and (sorry, Mum!) …moist. I’ve made many a cake which turned out to be slightly bitter or dry – such a disappointment after all the time and effort you put in – but this recipe is spot on.
Today, I’ve included the cake recipe (which is courtesy of James Martin via BBC Good Food). Closer to Christmas, I’ll write a post all about decorating your finished cake!
Oh, and by the way – my booze of choice for this recipe is Pedro Ximenez sherry. In my opinion, its incredibly deep and fruity scent and flavour could not be a more perfect partner for the dried fruit in this cake.
Recipe: Best ever Christmas cake
- 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
- Zest and juice 1 orange
- Zest and juice 1 lemon
- 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
- 250g butter, softened
- 200g light soft brown sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 100g flaked almonds
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours.
- Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
- To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.