Traditional Rich Christmas Cake

Ingredients

  • 160g (1 cup) currants
  • 200g (1 1/4 cups) raisins
  • 100g (1/2 cup) glace cherries
  • 50g (1/4 cup) mixed citrus peel, chopped
  • 15g angelica, chopped
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) brandy
  • 1 small lemon or orange, grated rind and juice of
  • 2 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 75g (1/3 cup) ground almonds
  • 100g (1/2 cup) almonds or hazelnuts, chopped
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g (3/4 cup) soft dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 5 eggs, beaten, plus 1 extra egg, if needed
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

Method

The night before you make the cake, put the dried fruit, peel and angelica into a bowl and pour over the brandy and lemon juice. Stir, cover and leave to soak.

The next day, prepare the 20cm round cake tin, line with a double layer of baking paper and brown paper. (see line the tin instructions) Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F.

Sift flour, salt and spices into large bowl and add ground almonds, soaked fruit and peel, and chopped almonds. Mix well with a metal spoon.

In the bowl of an electric cake mixer, cream the butter, sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the zest. Beat in the beaten eggs, a little at a time mixing well after each addition. Stir this mixture into the flour and fruit. The resulting mixture should be soft and moist but, if not, add an extra beaten egg and stir well. The mixture should not be too soggy or the fruit will sink.

Spoon into tin and smooth surface with the back of a hot, wet metal spoon. Make a slight hollow in middle to prevent cake from peaking. Cover top of the cake with a double layer of brown paper with a 1cm diameter hole cut in the centre to allow moisture to escape.

Bake in for check 3 – 3½ hours. During the last two hours reduce the temperature of the oven by 10°C. Test the cake 30 minutes before the end of cooking. The cake should be firm to the touch, and when it begins to shrink from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, it is done

Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Make small skewer holes in the top of the cake and spoon over the brandy. Leave to cool in the tin.

When cold, wrap in a layer of greaseproof paper and then foil to store. A few weeks before Christmas, make some holes with a thick needle (a skewer is too thick) and pour in spoonfuls of brandy. Rewrap and leave until ready to cover with marzipan and royal icing (see instructions in decorating a cake).

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