RICH FRUIT CHRISTMAS CAKE
This recipe is for a 20cm deep cake tin or a 18cm square one. It is dark, rich and full of fruit – I soak the fruit in brandy, but whisky works well too. Always check the date on the nutmeg and mixed spices; they do lose their flavour the older they get. I find I get a better cake if you cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy, then add and mix in the other ingredients by hand.
50g currants 175g raisins 175g sultanas 115g glace cherries, rinsed and quartered 50g mixed peel Three good tablespoons brandy
1. Place all the fruit in a bowl, and stir in the brandy, cover and leave for at least 12 hours.
225g unsalted butter 225g dark soft brown sugar 4 large eggs 225g plain flour ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg ½ teaspoon mixed spice 1 dessert spoon black treacle Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C/ Gas 1 2. Grease and line a 20cm deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk the eggs. Remove the bowl from the mixer then slowly add the egg, a little at a time, to the creamed mix, beating thoroughly using a spoon or whisk, if the mix starts to curdle stir in a little of the flour. When all the egg has been added, carefully fold in the flour, salt and spices, then stir in the black treacle and add the lemon and orange zest.
5. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after two hours, and if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
6. In the Aga I bake my cake in the simmering oven. It may need a little extra time but works brilliantly.
7. When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra brandy. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper, and again in foil, then store in a cool place, feeding at intervals with more brandy. (Don’t remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)