Christmas Cake
This makes an 8″ (20 cm) cake (at least 25 servings). Double the quantities for a 10″ (25 cm) cake. Fruit and nut quantities don’t need to be exact. To make a rich, moist Christmas cake it’s best to start making it in mid-November!
  Serves:  25       Print   FavoriteLoading Add to My Favourites
Ingredients
  • 200 g (7 oz) plain flour
  • 200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 200 g (7 oz) sugar (brown is best for flavour)
  • 200 g (7 oz) currants
  • 200 g (7 oz) sultanas
  • 200 g (7 oz) raisins
  • 100 g (3½ oz) glacé cherries, halved
  • 50 g (2 oz) candied (mixed) peel
  • 4 eggs
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
Optional extras
  • 150 g (5 oz) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (2 oz) flaked almonds
  • 50 g (2 oz) ground almonds
  • ½ tsp almond essence
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time with a tbsp of the flour. Beat the mixture well between each egg added.
  4. Seive in the flour, spices and salt. Add the lemon zest, almond extract and the ground almonds. Beat well.
  5. Mix together all the dried fruit and nuts in a large bowl. Add the mixed fruit into the cake mixture and stir well.
  6. Grease an 8″ (20 cm) cake tin and line with baking paper. Pour the mixture into the tin. (For a 10″ cake tin you will need help!)
  7. Press the mixture down well and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in the middle of the oven at 150°C for 2-2½ hours.
  8. After 2 hours check the cake with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, your cake is done!
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack before removing from the cake tin.

Feeding the cake

Bodge about 12 holes in the cake with a skewer or a chopstick. I feed my cake 2-3 tbsp of liquid every 5 or 6 days. The cake gets fed 3 or 4 times in total depending upon how moist I sense the cake is becoming. There are some non-alcoholic alternatives to the traditional rum or brandy.

  • Cold tea, especially a spiced tea such as Earl Grey or an Indian spiced tea
  • Alcohol-free wine
  • Pasteurised orange juice (or boiled fresh orange juice)

I usually use a mixture of 1 part orange juice to 2 parts alcohol-free wine.

Covering with Marzipan

To cover an 8″ (20 cm) cake you’ll need about 450 g (1 lb) of marzipan. If you are planning to cover the cake in royal icing it is best to use white marzipan so that the colour of the marzipan doesn’t show through. If you are using fondant icing (as I do) then yellow marzipan gives a nice contrast.

You’ll need:

450 g (1 lb ) marzipan
2-3 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar

1 Dust a surface with icing sugar and knead the marzipan until soft and smooth.
2 Roll the marzipan out to a circle of diameter equal to the width of the cake plus two times the thickness of the cake plus a little bit extra. For a square cake the diameter should be twice the thickness plus the length across the diagonal.
3 Melt the apricot jam in the microwave or in a pan. Brush the cake on the top and sides with the melted jam.
4 Using a rolling pin as a helper, lift the marzipan and place it onto the cake. Smooth it down and trim the edges. For a square cake you may need to trim the marzipan at each corner and create a seam.
5 Place the cake in a sealed container for about a week before icing.

Some people marzipan the bottom of the cake too. This is advisable if you are planning to store the cake for several months, but otherwise I feel it can lead to too much of a marzipan taste in the cake.

Icing the cake

I use fondant icing to cover my cakes because it’s so much easier to work with than the main alternative, Royal Icing. For an 8″ (20 cm) cake you’ll need:

450 g (1 lb) fondant icing
A cup of water that has been boiled and allowed to cool

1 Dust a surface with icing sugar and knead the fondant until soft and smooth.
2 Roll the icing out to a circle of diameter equal to the width of the cake plus two times the thickness of the cake plus a little bit extra. For a square cake the diameter should be twice the thickness plus the length across the diagonal.
3 Brush the marzipan layer of the cake with the boiled water.
4 Using a rolling pin as a helper, lift the icing and place it onto the cake. Smooth it down and trim the edges. For a square cake you may need to trim the icing at each corner and create a seam. Use a flat surface to smooth the icing and eliminate any air bubbles with a needle.
5 Now you can decorate the cake in whatever way you choose!

You should always keep the cake in an airtight container. Cut small pieces to have with coffee or tea, and always with friends.

Titli’s Tips

Use a cake tin with a pop-up bottom or a springform tin – it’s so much easier to get the cake out of the tin!

For a 10″ cake bake at 150°C for 1½ hours, the turn the oven temperature down to 140°C and cook for no more than an extra 1½ hours.