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Monday, 13 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas #4: Christmas cake - how do you make yours?

My grandma always used to make our Christmas pudding and cake.  I could never understand why she would make it so far in advance (the Christmas before!) and how it didn't go mouldy.  She said "good things are worth waiting for" and she was so right. 

When I lived in Japan I remember being so shocked that people at sponge cake decorated with strawberries on Christmas Day.  I have no idea where that tradition came from!

This year I made a very special Christmas cake to celebrate a very special Christmas - one when a close friend's dad just got the all clear from cancer.  The best present anyone could hope for.  So I made the cake, and I have sent it off to Cornwall to be iced by his two little granddaughters.

This is a lovely old recipe, best made about six weeks in advance, but if you make it now and feed it brandy each day it should still be delicious come Christmas day.  Enjoy!


200g each of raisins & currants
50g glace cherries
200g chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
150g butter
2 large eggs
100g dark brown sugar
zest of half a lemon
150g plain flour
half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
quarter teaspoon each of ground cloves & ground ginger
sprinkle of nutmeg
200ml of brandy (or maybe more if you are anything like me...)

Advance preparation
1) Put all the dried fruit in a saucepan with the brandy, bring it to the boil and then take it off the heat. Cover it and leave it overnight to soak up all the lovely brandy goodness.
2) Take your eggs and butter out of the fridge so they warm to room temperature
3) Prepare your tin (see below)

How to make your delicious cake
1) Put some nice Christmas music on in the background and pour yourself a large sherry!
2) Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C / gas mark 2
3) Cream the butter and sugar, then mix in the lemon zest
4) Add the eggs and beat well
5) Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, then add to the mixture, alternating with adding the soaked fruit (which should smell amazing by now)
6) Add the chopped nuts and fold in
7) Put into prepared tin (see below) and bake at 150 degrees C (gas mark 2) for around 2 hours
8) Once the cake is cooked, wrap it in foil straight away (still in its tin) to keep the top of the cake soft as it cools
9) Once it is cooled, remove it from the tin and wrap it in a double layer of greaseproof paper and a double layer of foil.  This version of Christmas cake will easily keep for up to six weeks in an airtight container, if you store it in a cool dry place.
10) Every couple of days add a bit more brandy to the cake and by Christmas day it will be moist and delicious!

How to prepare your tin
Prepare your tin by cutting out two circles of greaseproof paper the same size as the base of your tin, and two long rectangles that are slightly longer than the circumference of your tin, and 12cm wider than the height of the tin. Fold each of the rectangles in along one length, about 2cm from the edge, and then snip small triangles out of the folded section (as if you are making a frill). Hold the two rectangles together (to make a double layer) and use them to line the tin, with the frill side at the bottom of the tin. The triangles you cut out should allow the frill to sit on the bottom of the tin. The circles then go on top of the frill to line the base, and your cake mixture will sit on top of this. The lining should be sticking out about 10cm above the rim of the cake tin. (See photo above).

All ready to send off to be iced by my young friends...

Icing your cake
If you want to ice your own, first spread a layer of apricot jam over the whole cake, cover it in marzipan, then royal icing and whatever decorations you fancy. 
Then tuck in!


What's in your christmas cake this year?


More Christmas goodness here in the Countdown to Christmas


  1. Sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Yummmmmmo. I've never actually made the cake myself, so am going to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing the yummy recipe.

  3. My aunt makes the cake (We call it fruit cake in America)evey year. I know she puts some kind of alcohol in it....I can only eat so much fruit cake or I'll get drunk! But that may be a good thing. Hmmmmmm.


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