Tra­di­tional Christ­mas cake

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - FESTIVE BAKING -

SERVES 20

600g your choice of dried fruit 75g candied orange peel, finely chopped 1 ta­ble­spoon mar­malade or apri­cot jam, plus 100g ex­tra for glaz­ing 100ml brandy, plus ex­tra for feed­ing (op­tional) 125g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened 120g dark brown su­gar 1 ta­ble­spoon honey 1 ta­ble­spoon trea­cle 3 eggs 100g plain flour 25g al­mond meal ½ tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon ½ tea­spoon ground nut­meg ¼ tea­spoon ground cloves ¼ tea­spoon ground all­spice 50g whole blanched al­monds

1 Com­bine the dried fruit, candied orange peel and mar­malade or jam in a large bowl. Splash the brandy over the top and leave it to soak overnight on the kitchen bench. 2 Make sure all your in­gre­di­ents are at room tem­per­a­ture be­fore you start to make your cake. This will help the mix­ing and min­gling, and will pre­vent the bat­ter from cur­dling. 3 Pre­heat the oven to 140°C. Line a 26cm round or square cake tin with brown pa­per fol­lowed by but­tered bak­ing pa­per, then dust with flour and set aside. 4 Place the but­ter and su­gar in the bowl of an elec­tric mixer fit­ted with the pad­dle at­tach­ment and cream to­gether on medium speed for 3–4 min­utes or un­til pale and fluffy. (Or do this in a bowl with a wooden spoon.) Trickle in the honey and trea­cle and beat again, watch­ing as the but­ter turns a creamy caramel colour. 5 Crack the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them to­gether with a fork be­fore adding them grad­u­ally to the cake bat­ter. I al­ways take this ex­tra step, no mat­ter what type of cake I am adding eggs to, as it makes them more fluid and sub­stan­tially re­duces the chances of the but­ter cur­dling. 6 Sift the flour, al­mond meal and spices into a bowl. 7 Re­move the but­ter mix­ture from the ma­chine (if us­ing one) and fold through one-third of the soaked dried fruit by hand (in­clud­ing any brandy) fol­lowed by onethird of the flour mix­ture, al­ter­nat­ing un­til both have been com­pletely in­cor­po­rated. 8 Pour the bat­ter into the pre­pared tin and smooth the top with the back of a ta­ble­spoon or a pal­ette knife, then dec­o­rate it with the whole al­monds. Pop the tin on the mid­dle rack of your oven and bake for 1 hour or un­til a skewer in­serted in the cen­tre of the cake comes out clean. Re­move and cool com­pletely in the tin. 9 Once the cake is cooled you may want to “feed” it with more brandy. Use a skewer to pierce holes all over the sur­face, then brush the top with lots of brandy so that it soaks into the holes. Heat the ex­tra mar­malade or jam in a small saucepan and brush it over the top of the cake to glaze it and pre­vent the sur­face from dry­ing out. 10 If you want to make this cake well in ad­vance of Christ­mas so that the fruits ma­ture, skip the glaz­ing process and wrap it re­ally well in a layer of bak­ing pa­per, fol­lowed by foil around the out­side. Store it in a cool place.

For the boozi­est Christ­mas cake ever, feed the cake once a week un­til Christ­mas, then glaze with mar­malade or jam just be­fore serv­ing. Na­dine

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