Christmas Cake

img_0608In October, when the trees start to turn, and the pavements are coloured with the reds, yellows and golds of the year’s leaves, it is a definite sign that Winter is soon approaching, and thoughts of hats and scarves, brisk walks, open fires, and mulled wine start to come to mind.  These thoughts at that time of year, is always a reminder that it is time to make Christmas Cake.  Although not absolutely necessary, it is always a good idea to give the Christmas cake a chance to mature.  The length of time helps to develop its richness and moistness.  When I was younger, my aim was always to make the Christmas Cake early, and ‘feed’ it, with as much alcohol as it could take, with the aim of getting my Gran drunk on Christmas Day just from eating my Christmas Cake 🙂  The Christmas Cake remains a firm favourite of the family, and is always something I make every year.

I have always used a variant of Delia’s Christmas Cake, mainly because I learned to cook with the help of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course Book.  However, this year, I thought I would try something different, and I have merged Delia’s recipe with Eric Lanlard’s Chocolate Christmas Cake, to come up with a slightly different recipe.  I made two, just to check it, and I really enjoyed eating a pre-christmas fruit cake – it went perfectly with my cup o’ tea in the afternoon 🙂

With December starting this weekend, it is not too late to make your Christmas Cake!

Christmas Cake Recipe

  • 450g sultanas
  • 450g raisins
  • 75g glace cherries
  • 75g candied peel
  • 350g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 350 g butter
  • 350 g soft brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 45g molasses or treacle
  • 175g dark chocolate
  • Zest 1 orange
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 125g hazelnuts
  • Cointreau

Place the Sultanas, Raisins, Cherries, Candied Peel and 4 generous tablespoons of Cointreau.  Mix well together.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and leave it to rest over night.  This will allow the fruit to plump up with the alcohol, and make them more sumptuous.

Set your oven to 150C. Line an 8×8 (20cm) Square Cake Tin or 9×9 (23 cm) round Cake Tin with Greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, salt, and spices into a bowl.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie.

In a Kenwood Chef, beat the butter until soft, and then add the sugar, and continue to beat until it is light and fluffy. Beat the eggs, one at a time, into the mixture.  This is the stage that you need to be careful not to curdle the eggs by beating too much. Fold in the sifted flour and spices. Now, fold in the fruit, molasses, melted chocolate, zest and hazelnuts.

Pour into your prepared tin.  Cover the cake with two layers of greaseproof paper, with a hole in the middle (this will help it to stop going dark on top.  And also, cover the outside of the tin either with brown paper, or two layers of greaseproof paper, tied with string.

Place a baking tray of water at the bottom of the oven. Bake the cake for 1 hour 45 mins at 150°C, then reduce the heat to 110°C and cook for another 3hours.  The exact amount will depend on your oven.  After 4 hours, check it every 20-30 minutes.  You will know the cake is ready when you place a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven, and immediately pierce it all over with the skewer, and add 3 tablespoons of Cointreau over the top.

Leave the cake to cool.  Once cool wrap it with greaseproof paper and then tin foil before storing it in a good tin.

About once a week, bring the cake out, prick holes in the cake all over, and drizzle over a couple more tablespoons of cointreau.

I have not yet decided how I will decorate my Christmas Cake this year, but for inspiration, have a look at my pinterest page of Christmas Cake ideas.

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