Happy 1st of December everyone! As I write this, I’m curled up on the sofa with my hot chocolate and marshmallows after a day of Christmas decorating and present wrapping about to indulge in my favourite festive film (Elf of course!) and it’s all allowed because we’re finally here, the last month of the year, hurray 🙂
So, I’ve got some exciting news for you all from my lovely little kitchen here in cosy old Barnes! Over the course of the next 24 days I will be sharing 12 of my favourite festive recipes with you all. Some will be easy treats that are perfect to have around the house for any last minute guests and some require a little more attention but are definitely worth it once you see the finished product!
I’m so excited to share these with you all as Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year and I love hearing back from you, so please let me know how you get on with any of your festive baking this year!
So sit back, try not to stress too much over the next month (although who am I kidding, Christmas stresses are unavoidable eventually), and enjoy Christmas as a time to spend some quality time with your family and friends.
Despite my parents being the only fans of Christmas cake in my house, I have been instructed to make a full-sized fruit cake (this is in addition to a Yule log and Gingerbread house, no pressure…) by my mum for the Christmas table and as she knows how much time I spend in the kitchen the rest of the year, there was no getting out of this one!
I know that everyone who will be making a Christmas cake at home this year will have already done so, but since this is the first time I have made a Christmas cake, I couldn’t help but share my recipe and attempt at this slightly daunting task with you all to start off this special Christmas countdown.
So far, so good and the baking of this cake, although a bit of a waiting with bated breath affair, has been straight forward and is the thing that has made me feel most festive so far this year – the smell of dried fruits soaking in brandy took me right back to Christmas at home, I loved it!
Ingredients (Makes 12-15 Slices)
1Kg Mixed Dried Fruits (currants, sultanas, cranberries, raisins and cherries work well)
Zest & Juice of 1 Orange
Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
150ml Brandy (plus extra for feeding)
250g Butter, softened
200g Light Soft Brown Sugar
175g Plain Flour
100g Ground Almonds
½ Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Mixed Spice
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Cloves
100g Flaked Almonds
4 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– The day before you bake the cake, add the mixed dried fruits to a large, non-metallic bowl with 4 tbsp of brandy, giving everything a stir so that all the fruit gets coated in liquid. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to soak overnight.
On the day you’re baking the cake, add the soaked-dried fruit, citrus zests & juices, brandy, butter and butter to a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over a medium heat until boiling.
Once brought to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, before tipping the mixture to a large mixing bowl and leaving to cool for 30 minutes.
* Now preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/ 300F and line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, wrapping a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin and tying it into place with string.
After this cooling time, add the remaining ingredients (sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, spices, eggs and extract) to the fruit mixture and stir thoroughly, making sure there are no dry pockets of flour in the mixture.
Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a dessert spoon.
Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for around 2 hours, until a skewer can be inserted into the centre of the cake and come out clean, and the cake is firm to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven and poke a few holes in it using a skewer. Spoon 2 tbsp of brandy over the cake and leave to cool completely in the tin (this takes at least 1 hour).
Once cooled, remove the cake from the tin, peel off the baking parchment and wrap in clingfilm, then a layer of foil.
Feed the cake with a further 2tbsp of brandy every fortnight until icing, leaving a week between the final feeding and the icing so that the cake has time to dry completely.
A marzipan layer will need to be added to the cake around a week before icing so that the marzipan has time to dry, so keep an eye out for part 2, when I shall be attempting that!
Coming Next: White Chocolate & Cranberry Flapjacks