Making the Christmas cake, already

Christmas cake: jewel bright fruits, dark muscovado sugar and unctuous black treacle. There’s nothing like it. We have a simple rule about Christmas cake: the earlier we make it, the more brandy we can feed it with before eating! And it really is the simplest process. This recipe, by Mary Berry, never fails. The one warning she makes is never to over-bake a rich fruit cake as it will get darker as it matures. This is part 1 of a two-part post about making our Christmas cake. Part 2 follows in December, when it is time to ice the cake.cooling on rack 24-9-14275g currants
175g sultanas
175g raisins
100g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
100g ready-to-eat apricots, snipped into pieces
50g mixed candied peel [optional: someone in our house hates candied peel!]
3 tbsp brandy
225g plain flour
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice
225g soft margarine or softened butter
225g dark muscovado sugar
4 extra large eggs
50g whole almonds, chopped
1 scant tbsp black treacle
Grated rind of one lemon
Grated rind of one orange
Brandy, to feed the cake

Makes one 20cm cake. dried fruit, soaked 24-9-14Begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. Measured the prepared fruits into a large bowl, mix in the brandy, cover and leave in a cool place overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas1. Grease and line a 20cm deep round cake tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. cake tin, lined 24-9-14Measure the flour, spices, margarine/butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, treacle, lemon and orange rinds into a large bowl. grating the nutmeg onto the flour 24-9-14fruit, eggs & flour - ready to mix 24-9-14cake batter, before the fruit 24-9-14Beat well to mix thoroughly, then fold in the soaked fruits. cake batter, adding the fruit 24-9-14cake batter, inc the fruit 24-9-14Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of greaseproof paper. ready to go into oven 24-9-14Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 4½ – 4¾ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin. When cool, remove the cake from a tin. Pierce the top of the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little brandy until it soaks in. pricking, before adding 1st brandy 24-9-14Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again the foil, and store in a cool place for up to three months. All there is to do after this is to feed the cake at intervals with brandy. We do it weekly. The next job is to apply the almond paste, done a week before Christmas, and after that the fondant icing. Watch out for our pre-Christmas post about icing.

5 to remember
ya – already
la Navidad – Christmas
la melaza – the treacle
a intervalos – at intervals
semanal – weekly

mary berry's ultimate cake book 20-1-14


‘Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book’ [UK: BBC Books]

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