Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas Baking - Traditional Christmas Cake

Traditional Christmas Cake

I've started my Christmas baking, and I love baking for Christmas, the smell of all the spices is divine and always feels so Christmassy.  Alas I was a little late doing the Christmas Cake, but it is made along with the Christmas Pudding and Gingerbread (as in cake not biscuits/cookies) - although I'm not sure how long the Gingerbread will last -this gingerbread is as good as the Jamaica Ginger Cake and we all remember how nice that was with custard. This one is truly delicious too, I think I'll be making a few more batches of it before Christmas.

The first Christmas baking recipe I want to share is my Christmas Cake - well it's not actually my recipe, but it is my cake. Viv (also known as Grannie) my lovely Mother-In-Law had kindly sent through her recipes (via Grandad of course) for her Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding, rather than going with something new, I thought tried and tested recipes were the way to go.

I was going to make the cake before they arrived but I didn't manage to get to it plus I couldn't find a 9" square cake tin anywhere - there were plenty of 9" square brownie pans but these weren't deep enough for a traditional Christmas cake

So after much deliberating, should I buy a cake tin online etc, I decided to go ahead and use a 9" round deep cake tin, one I already in my kitchen so with a little adjustment of the recipe (as a 9" round needs less cake mixture than a 9" square) Grandad advised we needed to reduce the ingredients by a third and here is the recipe already reduced by a third for you.

Christmas Cake - 9"Round Tin

8oz Butter - softened
8oz Soft Brown or Demerara Sugar
4 eggs - beaten
8oz Plain Flour (all-purpose flour)
1/4 tsp Salt
1&1/4 tsp Mixed Spice
8oz Currants
8oz Raisins
4oz Mixed Peel*
4oz Glace Cherries*
2/3 cup Brandy/Whisky/Rum or Sherry - whatever is redundant in the drinks cupboard

*I used dried cherries and extra sultanas/raisins in place of the mixed peel and glace cherries.

I did had a problem finding mixed peel (known as candied peel here) and glace cherries here, that didn't look so artificial and full of unnatural colours, also the mixed peel was a combination of other fruits that included papaya and pineapple and wasn't what I was looking for my fruit cake.

Viv though advised me that I didn't need to use the mixed peel or glace cherries if I didn't want too, I just had to ensure that the total weight of the dried fruit was the same.

1. Place all the dried fruit into a bowl, stir in the booze and leave overnight to absorb.
2. Line a 9' Round cake pan with a double layer of greaseproof/parchment paper, then tie double brown paper under and around the outside of the tin and tie under the tip lip. This helps prevent browning too rapidly.
3. Cream butter and sugar together, then add beaten egg gradually with a little flour to avoid curdling. Sift the flour, salt and spices together and gently fold into the mixture.
4. Add the soaked fruit and mix thoroughly
5. Put the mixture into the cake tin, making sure it is levelled off
6. Bake at 150c/300F/Gas Mark 1 to 2 for 2 hours. Then cover for 1&1/2 hours with brown paper. Keep checking from 3 hours for the cake getting too brown. If necessary reduce the temperature or turn off if near time.
7. Leave in tin to cool completely (overnight if possible). leave greaseproof paper on and wrap in aluminium foil.

Christmas cakes are traditionally made 2 to 3 months before Christmas.

Dried Fruit left overnight to soak in booze
Butter and sugar creamed together with eggs, flour and spices added

I used my Kitchenaid to cream the butter and sugar together and used it to gently mix in the eggs, flour, salt and spices

Soaked fruit gently folded into the cake mixture

I gently folded the soaked dried fruit into the cake mixture by hand this way the fruit remains intact, plus it's nice to get in there and do it yourself.

Christmas Cake mixture all ready to bake

Viv got the tin ready for me, lining it with greaseproof paper and the outside with brown paper so it was all ready for me to spoon the mixture into the tin and level off ready to bake in the oven.

If only you could smell this photo - I just want to eat her now

And here she is after leaving overnight to cool completely and before wrapping in foil to preserve and let those flavours develop further.

Nearer Christmas we will probably finish her off with a layer of marzipan and icing - like a true traditional English Christmas Cake. Although the cake will be good enough to eat without this extra addition.

My serving suggestion is - make a cup of tea and cut a nice wedge of cake and top with a good vintage cheddar utterly delicious and a very Yorkshire thing to do.

If the cheese and cake doesn't appeal (but I dare you to try it) just enjoy by itself.

The Christmas Pudding & Gingerbread recipes will follow shortly too - have you started your Christmas baking/preparations yet?

Recipe Source - Grannie & Grandad (Vivienne & Paul Chaplin)


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