Proper British Christmas Cake
Sorry, there is no getting away from it, Christmas means a proper British Christmas cake. Not a sponge dressed up in icing and a Santa on top, no. What is right and proper is a dark, fruity cake, boozily drenched in brandy (or rum as is your want) and enough of it to make your Grandma dance. To achieve this, you need to get cracking in September. Though if like me you are running late and into November, do not worry, I can assure you it will still taste amazing though perhaps not as rich and moist.
Should you look at the list of ingredients and freak out, please don’t. All that is needed is a little organisation; get your ingredients weighed and measured and the tin lined before you begin, the rest will all fall in to place. Most of all, enjoy it, it’s the start of Christmas after all. 500 grams currants 225 grams raisins 225 grams sultanas 110 grams chopped mixed candied peel 225 grams glace cherries (halved) 300 grams grams plain flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 level teaspoon mixed spice ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 level teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 300 grams softened butter 300 grams soft dark brown sugar Zest ½ lemon 4 large eggs, lightly beaten 4 tablespoons brandy (plus extra for feeding
500 grams currants
225 grams raisins
225 grams sultanas
110 grams chopped mixed candied peel
225 grams glace cherries (halved)
300 grams grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
300 grams softened butter
300 grams soft dark brown sugar
Zest ½ lemon
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons brandy (plus extra for feeding
- Heat the oven to 150°C/ Gas 2.
- Line the sides and bottom of a 23cm cake tin with 2 thicknesses of greaseproof paper. Wrap the outside of the tin with a double layer of newspaper and tie with string to work as an insulator against the cake cooking too quickly.
- Mix the currants, raisins,sultanas, peel, and cherries with the flour, salt, and spices.
- In a mixer using a paddle beater, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture turns a pale colour and light and airy then carefully stir in the lemon zest.
- Now for what is the trickiest part of making the cake and do not be tempted to rush this part. With the beaters running add the beaten egg a little at a time making sure the egg is well mixed in before adding any more. If the mixture should curdle (and it should not if you go slowly) don’t panic, just add a tablespoon of flour and keep mixing.
- Using a large metal spoon, fold in half the flour and fruit mixture, repeat then when all folded in, add the brandy.
- Using the large metal spoon, carefully put the cake mixture into the tin one spoon at a time making sure there are no air pockets. Smooth the cake surface, then with the back of the spoon, make a slight indentation in the centre which when cooking rises up and creates a level finish.
Bake the cake:
- Bake the cake in the centre of the oven standing the cake tin on two layers of newspaper. If you have a gas oven use a baking sheet instead. Bake for 4 – 4 ½ hours. Check the surface isn’t cooking too quickly after about 2 hours and if it is then cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
- After 4 hours check that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake, it should come out clean, if not continue to cook until it does.
- Cool the cake in the tin on a cooling rack for an hour, then unwrap and leave to cool completely. Using a metal skewer, prick the surface of the cake and slowly pour over or wash with 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy, wrap in greaseproof and pop into a cake or airtight tin, repeating the feeding every two weeks until Christmas.
Notes on Making a Proper British Christmas Cake:
To ice or not? It does not stop this being a proper British Christmas cake as icing is a matter of personal taste. I like mine without any icing, preferring it with a slice of Wensleydale cheese, and a glass of Port.
But that’s me.
Credit: © Elaine Lemm