I am a latecomer to making my own Christmas Cake, as my Mum is the primary fruit cake maker in our family and I have hesitated to step on her turf. However, last year I decided to choose and make my own cake and fortunately for me Felicity Cloake has done all the hard work in deciding which recipe to go for, in her article a few years ago for the Guardian Word of Mouth Blog: How to cook perfect Christmas Cake. She covers a number of recipes (and approaches to rising, fruit, lacing with alcohol etc) and it’s well worth the read. She then comes up with the following recipe of her own, which is the one that I used last year and the one I will be using again this year. Largely because it has figs in it and I am a great fan of the fig!
Felicity’s recipe and instructions are in red and my additions are in pink!
100g dried figs, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherries, cut in half
100g mixed peel
125ml whisky, plus extra to feed
125g butter, softened
125g muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
130g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
50g whole almonds
25g crystallised ginger, chopped
1. Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the whisky, cover and leave to soak overnight. Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment. I think there’s plenty of room here for soaking for longer if you want and have the time.
2. Preheat the oven to 140C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t curdle. Some people suggest that you add a tiny little bit of flour at this point in order to stop the curdling as well.
3. Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining whisky, the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.
4. Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect. My Dad was brilliant at this bit, his small hollow would be a beautifully scooped out crater.
5. Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it’s cooked.
6. Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more whisky. With the baking parchment still attached, wrap well in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until you’re ready to ice just before Christmas. I will post recipes for marzipan and options for icing nearer the time – but for now your job is to feed this cake with whisky!!
I am making this cake in the next 7 days; I bought all the ingredients ages ago and they are now sitting in the cupboard approaching me until I make it. But really, there’s still a good couple of weeks before I become a complete reprobate!
Go on, make this cake – it’s really good!!