Christmas Cake
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Ingredients / Shopping List

 

200g butter or margarine

200g dark soft brown sugar

4 eggs

130g glace cherries

150g currants

200g raisins

200g sultanas

150g mixed peel

75g ground almonds

75g flaked almonds

1 tblsp black treacle

1 level tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

Zest of 1orange and 1 lemon

Prep Time:   0:25
Cook Time:   100:45
Makes:   1

Prep to Cook:

Line a cake tin with double layers of parchment paper AND wrap the outer side of the cake tin with a double layer of newspaper and tie with string. Adjust shelf position in oven to allow cake tin to sit in the middle to lower level.

Turn oven on 170 C or Gas Mark 3

Mixing bowl, hand held mixer, spatula, lemon squeezer, sieve, wooden spoon, teaspoon, chopping board, vegetable knife, sieve, colander

Prep:

Rinse glace cherries in a colander to remove excess sugar, dry with kitchen paper and then cut each cherry into quarters.

Zest and juice the lemon.

Sieve the flour with the spices, cinnamon and mixed spice.

Cream together the butter and the dark soft sugar.

Beat in the eggs, followed by about half the flour

Mix the cherries and dried fruits with ground almonds and flaked almonds

Spoon in this fruit mix to the cake mixture and stir well.

Add the lemon zest, juice and orange zest

Add the black treacle and check the consistency of the cake mix.

Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin and flatten the top.

Gently hollow the cake top and brush it with a pastry brush dipped in water

Cook very gently for up to 2 hours until firm to touch in the centre.

 

Check it out !

A rich cake mix keeps for many weeks and is firm enough to carry  layers of almond paste and icing as decoration.  It is the traditional cake used for Christmas celebration cake and for other events such as special birthdays, christening cakes and wedding cakes.  A rich fruit Christmas cake is fairly expensive to make.  It is best made in specialist fruit cake tins, round or square, that have a double layer base and deep sides.  In addition the cake tins need to be lined with cooking parchment.

Cooks Know How: The equal proportions of fat and sugar in this rich fruit cake make ‘the creaming method’ a suitable choice for processing.  Once the sugar and butter are creamed, and the colour is paler, the eggs can be beaten in.  If ‘curdling’ should occur you will notice a ‘bitty’ texture.  This should be rectified by adding some of the flour, about 2 tablespoons.  

Christmas cake contains many dried fruits alongside chopped glace cherries, peel and nuts. Add about half the flour to the dried fruits to separate them and prevent clumps of fruit forming.  Adding the ground almonds and nuts to the fruits also aids good mixing. The cake is darkened through the use of black treacle and enlivened with zest of orange and lemon and some spices.  Long, slow cooking is required to soften the fruits and allow favours to combine and develop.  Flour is the ingredient, along with the protein from the eggs, that ‘sets’ during cooking to hold and strengthen the cake structure. Fats melt and moisten the ingredients and ‘shorten’ the gluten in the flour to keep the cake tender. Fats also exude from the almond nuts to combine with the other ingredients bringing flavour and aiding the keeping quality.   The sugars in the cake will change to become sweeter and caramelised. 

Adding the outer layer of newspaper round the cooking tin slows the heat penetration into the cake and prevents burning.  Should the top of the cake brown too quickly cover this with a layer of parchment paper.  Slow cooking gently converts the cake ingredients into a melange of fruits and cake known as rich fruit cake.

Rich fruit cake is energy rich, supplies calories, fat, vitamin A and iron.  

Next Time

This may be next year or a celebration such as birthday, christenings or other special events through the year.  Whatever the reason, try making it again and enjoy every minute.  Remember rich fruit cake will keep well and can be made in advance of the event you need it for.

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