The British Christmas cake is not a recipe that you would typically make at any other time of year. For the uninitiated, it’s very much a seasonal treat, that contains lots of ingredients that would have been very expensive back in the day; bursting with dried fruits and nuts, and seasoned with exotic spices, this cake is about extravagance.
Servings: 20 people
Fruits and Candied Peels
- 400 g currants
- 250 g raisins
- 100 g dried cranberries
- 100 g glacé cherries
- 75 g candied lemon peel (coarsely chopped)
- 75 g candied orange peel (coarsely chopped)
- 100 ml brandy
- 250 g plain flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- finely grated zest of an orange
- finely grated zest of a lemon
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 100 g sliced almonds
- 50 g pistachio kernels (roughly chopped)
- The night before you want to make the cake, put all the fruits and candied peel in a large bowl, and stir through the brandy.
- Cover with some clingfilm, and leave overnight for the fruit to absorb the liquid.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 140 C, and grease and line a deep 18 cm (7″) square cake tin.
- Sift the dry ingredients together, and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the citrus zest and black treacle, stirring again to incorporate.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Add the dried fruit mixture and the nuts, and fold through until well distributed.
- Transfer the batter to the cake tin, and smooth over as much as possible. Wrap the outside of the cake tin in brown paper or newspaper, and tie with string.
- Bake for 2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin on a wire wrack.
- When cool, remove from the tin, and use a skewer to make holes all over the cake, right to the bottom.Spoon a couple of tablespoons of brandy over the cake, encouraging it into the holes as much as possible.
- The cake can be stored for at least 6 weeks like this, being fed with more brandy once a week. Do not feed the cake brandy for the week before decorating.