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Country Recipe: Traditional Christmas Cake

Along with gingerbread men and mince pies, Christmas cake is one of the most popular culinary classics of the festive season. Whether enjoyed with a warm cup of coffee or as an after-dinner treat, this yuletide delight is a must for the Christmas period and a firm favourite with us at Fur Feather and Fin. While some Christmas cake recipes may seem a little complicated, we’ve provided one that’s simple yet sure to produce amazing results! 

A Christmas cake decorated with fruit and chocolate

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 525g currants
  • 225g golden raisins or sultanas (whichever you prefer)
  • 225g raisins 
  • 110g mixed candied peel (chopped)
  • 1 cup glace cherries (cut into halves)
  • 300g plain flour 
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 300g soft butter
  • 300g brown sugar
  • ½ lemon (zested)
  • 6 large eggs (beaten)
  • 3/4 tablespoons of brandy

Marzipan:

  • 200g marzipan
  • 1-2 tablespoons of apricot jam (warmed)

Royal Icing:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons of liquid glycerine
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice 

Method (Cake):

Before you start getting to work on making your delicious Christmas cake, preheat your oven to 300 F/150 C/ Gas 2. Being full of fruits, sugars and a good glug of booze, this cake will require a ‘low and slow’ baking method to ensure the outer surface does not burn, and the inside cooks through nicely. 

Next, butter a round 9-inch cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Make sure you cover both the base and sides so that when it comes to removing it from the tin, your cake does not stick. Then, secure a section of brown paper around the outside of the cake tin using a piece of string. This will provide extra insulation to stop the outside of your cake burning. 

Once you have completed the prep work, now you can begin your cakemaking! Start by mixing the currants, golden raisins/sultanas, raisins, candied peel and glace cherries together in a large mixing bowl. Give the mixture a thorough stir and then pop in the flour, salt and spices. 

After successfully combining these ingredients, grab another large bowl and cream together the butter and sugar to form a light and soft paste. Then, pop in your lemon zest and gradually add the beaten eggs, pausing after every addition to stir the mixture. It is important to add the eggs at intervals rather than all at once as this will prevent the mix from curdling!

A cake mixture containing butter, sugar, lemon zest and eggs

Next, it’s time to combine your two mixtures together – do this by folding in half of the flour/fruit mixture into the butter/egg mixture. Once the two have successfully blended, add in the remainder of the former, along with the brandy, which will provide a touch of moisture.  

You should now have a fruity, sticky and gorgeously sweet-smelling mixture; spoon it into the cake tin you lined earlier, making sure there are no air pockets or bubbles. Once full, smooth over the mixture using the back of your spoon or a butter knife, making a slight dip in the middle. This will allow your cake to rise evenly and make it easier to ice later on! 

Next, it’s time to pop your cake in the oven to cook. But before you do this, place two sheets of newspaper on the lower shelf of your oven where the cake will be baked as again, this will provide extra insulation. Then, place your cake on the shelf and let it cook for around four and a half hours. But throughout the process, be sure to keep an eye on your creation to ensure it’s not burning. If you do notice any rapidly browning areas, cover the cake with a double layer of greaseproof paper after two and a half hours in the oven. 

After the allotted time, check that your cake is cooked inside and out by inserting a skewer into the centre; if there is any trace of the mixture on the skewer, it needs to go back into the oven. If your skewer is clean, leave your cake to cool on a wire rack for an hour or so.

Once your cake has successfully cooled, take your skewer and make several small and evenly spaced pinpricks on top. Then, grab your bottle of brandy and pour over 2 or 3 tablespoons of the alcohol, a process known as ‘feeding’. If you will be icing your cake the same day, leave your cake to soak up the brandy for around half an hour. Alternatively, if icing won’t take place for another few weeks, place your cake inside a tin and repeat the feeding process every two weeks.

Method (Icing):

Whether you ice your cake immediately after baking or leave it for a few weeks, this is the final and most fun part of creating your stunning Christmas cake, so get the Christmas music on and enjoy yourself!  

Begin by placing your cake on the board or plate that you want it to be displayed on. 

Next, sprinkle some icing sugar on to your hands and the surface you will be working on to make your icing. Take your marzipan and knead it on your work surface until soft. 

Once your marzipan is lax, roll around half of it out using a rolling pin. This layer will be placed on top of your cake, so make sure you have enough by taking rough measurements and sticking to them. Then, roll out the rest of your marzipan ball, and cut it into thick strips to be placed around the side of your cake. 

After preparing your marzipan, you need to ensure that the surface of your cake is sticky enough to hold it in place; cue the warmed apricot jam. Using a brush, smother your cake with the jam, making sure you reach every nook and cranny so that the marzipan sticks. Then, take your marzipan sections and carefully place them on top and around the sides of your cake to create one complete layer. Once this step is complete, cover your cake with a cloth or tea towel and leave in a cool place for at least 24 hours.  

Finally, it will be time to make the royal icing. To do this, gently whisk together your egg whites, adding in the icing sugar gradually. Once this has all been added, beat the mixture well until it resembles soft peaks.

Next, pop in the glycerine and lemon juice, and give the mixture a final stir to ensure that zesty flavour is successfully blended. Then, dollop your gorgeous white icing on to your cake and spread evenly for a glistening finish. Alternatively, use the back of a spoon to create curling snowy peaks, adding a variety of Christmas decorations too!  

Will you be trying out this traditional Christmas cake recipe? If so, we’d love to see your creations! Get in touch on our social media channels to share your gorgeous Christmas cake photos with us. Alternatively, if you’re still in search of personalised unique county gifts, why not check out country gift guides for him and her today?

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