Monday, 17 December 2007
I’m on and off with giving everyone goods from my kitchen. It’s been a few years I think. Last time was litres and litres a sweet chilli sauce from scratch. That was a never ending task, I swear, I was sticky for weeks.
This year I couldn’t decide what to make. I tossed around many ideas. In the end, I picked up all my baking courage and attempted the Christmas Cake.
I had to make quite a few so there were bowls and bowls of soaking fruit. I made them in 2 at a time, which my largest bowl was only just able to take. This morning, my fussy boss (who will be a recipient) moaned of the Christmas Cake he got on the weekend and how it resembled the Sahara Dessert and he threw I away! Oh dear, I hope mine is better! When we taste tested we were impressed, it’s moreish to say the least!
175g seedless raisins
150g dried apricots
1 large tablespoon bitter marmalade
150g mixed peel
Grated zest of 2 oranges
300g plain flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
220g softened unsalted butter
200g light-brown sugar
4 large free-range eggs
100g blanched almonds
Put all the dried fruit, marmalade and the orange zest into a large non-reactive bowl mix thoroughly, and pour in the brandy and mix again. Leave for 24 hours at room temperature, turning the mixture once or twice to distribute the brandy evenly.
Preheat the oven to 140C and grease a 24cm round cake tin. Flatten out a cardboard box and cut a round to fit the base of the cake tin and line with baking-paper.
Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large bowl.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until pale and thick and the sugar has dissolved. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add slowly a tablespoon at a time into the butter and sugar mix. If you hurry this process it can curdle, so take your time. When all the egg is in, gently fold in the spiced flour and then fold in the soaked fruits.
Tip the batter into the prepared tin. Smooth the top and decorate with the blanched almonds and glace cherries. Stand a baking dish of water in the oven, on the shelf below the cake, which will help the cake stay moist. Bake for 2 and a half to 3 hours.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cake in a doubled layer of baking-paper and then in a doubled layer of foil and store in an airtight tin.