For those who haven’t made / bought their christmas cake yet: Do not fear! This recipe is one that both my Mum and my Nana use, and is amazing… Easy to make, and it doesn’t matter if you only make it halfway through December, as it’s nice and moist due to the pineapple that goes into it (yes, pineapple!). It’s definitely my favourite christmas cake recipe by far, as the finished cake is never crumbly or dry, like a lot of christmas cakes are, and it also rises evenly in the oven, meaning that you don’t have to chop a lot of cake off to even out the top!
*Thanks must go to my Mum for this recipe, which she sent me this year for me to try out myself for the very first time 🙂
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1lb mixed fruit
8oz glace cherries
220g tin pineapples in juice (not syrup!) (about 125g fruit & 100mls juice)
6oz soft brown sugar
4oz butter (I used dairy-free margarine)
2 eggs, beaten
8oz s.r. flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 tblsp. Amaretto (original recipe doesnʼt have alcohol – could use brandy if prefer)
Before you start, make sure you have enough time to allow for preparing the tin – it’s not hard (really!). The key to a well-baked (not overdone!) Christmas cake is in the preparing of the tin which allows the cake to cook slowly without overdoing the edges. It is worth spending some time wrapping the tin before you start as it takes a bit of time. String and brown paper gets you a bit of practice in for wrapping all your presents later on! (I cheated a bit and stuck some sticky tape on the tin to help keep it in place whilst I tied it with string, but remember to take the sticky tape off before putting in the oven!
If you are tempted to skip this stage, the cake will cook too quickly on the outside and not enough in the middle. Otherwise, this recipe is virtually foolproof (ie. my Mum has never any problems in all the years that she’s been using this recipe, and my Nana has even asked for the recipe too!). Other recipes she tried turned out either burnt or too dry, or had a magnificent dome – which then needed levelling off before decorating – itʼs nice to have an excuse to sample the trimmings, but then the cake ends up smaller.
1. Cut up the cherries and tinned pineapple into small pieces, and put in the saucepan, along with all the other dried fruit, pineapple juice, sugar and butter. Heat gently until boiling then allow to cool.
2. Add Amaretto and stir into the mixture.
3. Add eggs, flour and baking powder, and mix well.
4. Put in a greased, lined 7” square baking tin (wrapped with 2-3 layers brown paper tied around outside of tin). Smooth the mixture from the centre outwards so that there is a slight dip in the middle – this will level off during cooking. Stand on 4 sheets brown paper.
6. Bake at 140 degrees C, Gas Mark 2, for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until cooked right through. Test with a skewer to make sure it is cooked (if mixture sticks to the skewer carry on baking, but test regularly). If the top starts to brown before the cake is fully cooked, cover with silver foil to prevent burning.
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It only took 1 hour 30 minutes to cook in my oven, so keep an eye on it. Once out of the oven, I let it rest for 30 minutes, so that when I turned it out, the cake wouldn’t fall to pieces (much more likely with a Christmas cake, due to the low amount of flour binding everything together in relation to a normal sponge cake). I let it sit on a wire rack to cool until cold.
To decorate the cake, you’ll need 500g marzipan, and some apricot jam.
First, you will need to roll out the marzipan in two shapes; one square shape for the top (or round if you used a round cake tin), and a long rectangular shape for the sides. Make sure that the marzipan is evenly rolled, so that it is all the same thickness the whole way round the cake.
You then need to heat up a spoonful of the jam in the microwave, and brush it onto the top and side surfaces of the cake, so that it acts as a glue once the marzipan is put on the cake.
Line up the rectangular portion of the marzipan with the sides,and gently smooth it on, slowly working your way round the cake. Pinch together the two ends and smooth over with the flat palm of your hand to create a seamless finish. For the top, you will need to lay the square-shaped portion carefully on the cakes, and again, carefully pinch together the sides of the square with the marzipan on the sides, and then brush over with your open palm to create a tidy finish. Let the marzipaned cake sit for a day or two so that the marzipan dries out.
For the icing, use 500g again (similar to mazipan, see?), and roll it out in a large square, enough to cover the entire top and sides of the cake. Spread the heated apricot jam on the cake and then carefully lay the icing over the cake, smoothing out the top, and slowly moving down the sides of the cake smoothing as you go.
Decorate it as you wish!