Tra­di­tional Christ­mas cake

Landscape (UK) - - In the Kitchen -

Serves 12

200g cur­rants 200g raisins 100g dried figs 100g dried prunes 100g dried cher­ries 100g dried apri­cots 50g can­died peel 100ml brandy, plus 2 tbsp per fort­night 250g un­salted but­ter, soft­ened, plus ex­tra for greas­ing 250g dark brown soft sugar 4 eggs Zest and juice of 1 orange Zest and juice of 1 le­mon ½ tsp bak­ing pow­der ½ tsp sea salt ½ nut­meg, grated 1 tsp ground mixed spice 250g plain flour 50g whole bleached al­monds, plus 50g ground al­monds 50g morello glacé cher­ries In a large mix­ing bowl, com­bine the dried fruit with the can­died peel, then warm the brandy in a jug in the mi­crowave for 1 min. Mix in the brandy, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak for 2 hrs. Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin. Pre­heat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 3. In a sep­a­rate large bowl, cream to­gether the but­ter and sugar for 2 mins un­til creamy. Beat in the eggs thor­oughly, one at a time, then add the zest and juice of the orange and le­mon. Stir thor­oughly, then fold in the bak­ing pow­der, sea salt, nut­meg, mixed spice and then the flour. Stir in all the al­monds, glacé cher­ries and pre-soaked fruit. Fill the pre­pared cake tin with the mix­ture and flat­ten the top with the back of a spoon. Fold two sheets of news­pa­per into a multi-lay­ered strip to fit around the cake tin. Wrap the pa­per around the out­side of the tin and tie tightly with string; this helps pre­vent the edges burn­ing. Bake for 2 hrs 30 mins un­til firm or a metal skewer comes out clean when in­serted. Al­low the cake to cool com­pletely in the tin, then re­move and wrap in a layer of grease­proof pa­per and then a layer of tin foil. Keep in a cool, dark place. Ev­ery 10 days, feed the cake with brandy by firstly re­mov­ing the wrap­ping and in­sert­ing a skewer six times into the cake, al­most to the bot­tom. Us­ing a spoon, driz­zle 2 tbsp of brandy slowly over the top of the cake. The brandy should soak in. Rewrap the cake and leave in a cool, dark place. Feed for 6 weeks or un­til the cake is iced.

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