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.
- 400g currants
- 250g raisins
- 100g dried cranberries
- 100g glace cherries, quartered
- 75g candied lemon peel, coarsely chopped
- 75g candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
- 100mls brandy
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g soft light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- finely grated zest of an orange
- finely grated zest of a lemon
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 100g sliced almonds
- 50g 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 140c, and grease and line a deep 18cm (7-inch) 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.