Classic Christmas Cake
This is my original Christmas cake from the first book – a combination of my grandmother’s, my mother’s and a few tweaks from me.
(There are more fruit cake recipes in our Christmas Cakes and Toppings collection here)
This recipe is from Delia's Cakes.
You should get the pre-soaking ingredients ready the night before you make the fruit cake.
Put all the fruits (see note at foot of method), in a bowl and mix them with the brandy, cover with a cloth and leave them to soak for a minimum of 12 hours. When you’re ready to cook the cake, pre-heat the oven to 140°C, gas mark 1. Now all you do is sift the flour, salt and spices into a very large roomy mixing bowl then add the sugar, eggs, treacle (warm it a little first to make it easier) and butter and beat with an electric hand whisk until everything is smooth and fluffy.
Now gradually fold in the pre-soaked fruit mixture, chopped nuts and finally the grated lemon and orange zests. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of the spoon and, if you don’t intend to decorate the cake with marzipan and icing, lightly drop the blanched almonds in circles over the surface.
Finally take a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-sized hole in the centre (for extra protection during the cooking) and place this not on top of the mixture itself but on the rim of the brown paper. Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 hours until it feels springy in the centre when lightly touched. Sometimes it can take 30–45 minutes longer than this, but in any case don’t look at it for 4 hours.
Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling.
When it’s cold, ‘feed’ it by making small holes in the top and bottom with a cocktail stick and spooning in a couple of tablespoons of Armagnac or brandy, then wrap it in parchment-lined foil and store in an airtight tin. You can now ‘feed’ it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.
Dried fruits: We have discovered a supplier who will provide everything you need with superb quality, for example pinhead currants, which are smaller and contain fewer seeds, Lexia raisins which are made from dried Muscat grapes, whole candied peels and many others.
Tel: 01423 358 858 www.countryproducts.co.uk
You will need a Delia Online 20cm Round Loose-based Cake Tin (or similar), greased, with base and side lined plus some baking parchment. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin for extra protection