Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Cake - Part 2 - Full Recipe

Christmas Cake - Part 2

Baking the cake

In case you missed it, last week we were getting our fruit prepared and soaked in order to get into the Christmas baking today. Just remember in these photos I am making a double batch, which is why there is so much batter.  This proved to be rather a bit of logistical nightmare finding a bowl big enough to fit it all! It all worked out in the end thankfully.
So for your single batch, start with 250g of butter, 250g brown sugar and 5 eggs.
Cream the butter and sugar together, and when it's light and fluffy, add each egg one at a time, and mix it through completely. This will take a good few minutes in an electric mixer.
Once you have your nice creamy mix, find 1.5 tablespoons of strong coffee (a teaspoon of instant coffee does it)
 one teaspoon each of vanilla essence and almond essence
1 tablespoon of dark plum jam, and 1.5 tablespoons of golden syrup (makes it tasty and rich)
Mix all these into the batter, along with a tablespoon of gelatine. The recipe says glycerine, I had no idea what this was apart from a binding agent (and couldn't find it in the shops!) and so gelatine seemed a good substitute to keep the cake together.
And now for some zest- take an orange, grate all the zest off it and squeeze the juice out.
 Add the orange to the mix. I still haven't been able to get to this stage in the recipe without the batter slightly separating, especially when you add the orange. Don't worry about this as it all comes together once you stir in the flour and dried fruit later in the recipe.

 Now would be a great time to turn your oven on to 150 degrees, or lower if you have a bit of extra time to keep the cake in the oven. 

 And time to start preparing the pans. As fruit cake takes a long time to cook, they need to be lined really well to stop the outside being dry with the centre uncooked. So take some brown paper, or some brown sandwich bags, trace and cut out the right size circle to line the base of your cake tin.  Make sure there are two layers of brown paper- the paper bags are already doubled over which is easy! 
Then do the same with only one layer of baking paper.

After the base is lined, cut some long strips of brown paper for the sides, stick them down, and do the same for the baking paper. This will keep your cake very happy while baking.

Now back to the baking. Put your wet mixture aside, and measure out 310g plan flour in another bowl.
Add one teaspoon of mixed spice
another one of ground ginger and another one of salt.
 Mix around. Now we have our 3 different bowls of ingredients- the flour, the wet mixture, and the fruit and booze we make the other day.
 And now it is a case of folding the flour and the fruit mixtures into the wet mixture alternately. Start by adding 1/3 of the flour mixture and fold
Go and find your nice fruit mixture - smell the beautiful fruit and brandy as you pull back the cling wrap!
 Fold in a third at a time
Then more flour 
then some fruit... etc etc. 
 Until you end up with this! It will be quite thick with a lot of fruit.
Spoon the mixture into your beautifully lined cake tin, and place it in the oven to bake for 3.5 hours at 150 degrees.

As I mentioned, I'm making a double batch, and like to make a number of mini cakes for presents. You can use a muffin tin for bite-size cakes, or some small souffle dishes as I have, or some individual cupcake moulds.
This is them all baking away. (As my oven was so crammed, it took a little longer to bake. The souffle dishes cooked for about 1 hour 40 minutes, the cupcakes cooked for about 1 hour, while the big cake still took 3.5 hours. 
Here they are all baked! Just a light crust on the outside, but beautiful and moist on the inside. If you're not sure if they're done, insert a skewer or knife into the cake, and no wet batter should come out. 
 And now for the fun part- drizzle a little brandy or rum on top once they are out of the oven. The brandy will sizzle up as they're still hot. Leave the cakes in the tin to cool down down (this might take a few hours).
Aren't they pretty? 

Decorating the cake

Decorating and finishing time! Cut a piece of cardboard that is the same size as the base of the cake. (tracing the tin is very practical to get the right size)
Even off the top of the cake- slice to make it flat.
Like so 
To stick the cake to the cardboard, heat a little apricot jam in the microwave for 10 seconds, brush some onto the cardboard 
 and stick it on the sliced side on the cake. 
This now becomes your base, and makes the top of it nice and smooth for icing. 
Now for the fondant- take a packet, knead it with your hands to soften it up for a minute, then and roll it out with a rolling pin. If you do this on a piece on baking paper, it stops it from sticking to the bench. Sprinkle with some icing sugar if it becomes too sticky.
 Once the fondant is about 5mm thick, brush a little more jam over the cake to make the fondant stick
and place the fondant over the top. 
Let the fondant drop and smooth the sides down, cutting away the excess at the bottom. 
 voila, beautiful iced christmas cake.
 Don't forget a little decoration! I bought these from Aldi, but you can also use a piece of holly or make your own out of coloured fondant.
 brush a little more jam on the back
And stick it down. There is your Christmas cake ready to wrap up with some clear cellophane and ribbon. 

Boo's Christmas Cake - full recipe 

250g sultanas 
250g currants
250g raisins
60g dried apricots 
60g dried pineapple 
60g dried figs 
60g dried prunes 
60g dates (I switched these for dried cranberries)
125g chopped peel
60g almonds
60g walnuts
125g glacé cherries

2 tblsp sherry (I add more)
2 tblsp brandy (I add more)
½ cup rum (I add more)
250g butter
250g butter
250g brown sugar
5 eggs
1.5 tbsp strong coffee or Parisian essence
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp glycerine (I use gelatine)
1.5 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp dark plum jam
Grated rind and juice of orange
310g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

For decorating- 500g packet of white fondant, 1 tablespoon apricot jam, icing figurines.

1. Cut fruit and nuts into small pieces, halve cherries.
2. Mix all fruit and nuts together, add brandy, sherry and rum. Allow to stand for several days in an airtight container.
3. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.
4. Add coffee, essences, gelatine, golden syrup, jam, orange rind and juice.
5. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt).
6. Add dry ingredients and fruit alternately to the wet mixture. Fold in until combined.
7. Line an 8 inch square tin (or about a 9 inch round tin, or a number of smaller cakes) with 2 layers of brown paper and one of greaseproof/baking paper. Use butter to stick paper down.
8. Bake in a slow oven at 150 degrees for 3 hours (or cook at a lower temperature for longer, or less time if making small cakes)
9. Once out of oven, trickle brandy or rum over the top of the cake, and let it cool in the tin.  Wrap in sheets of paper until eating or icing.

10. If not icing cake, continue to 'feed' with alcohol once every few days/ once a week until you eat it.
11. If icing the cake, roll out fondant from a packet until 3-5mm thick, warm apricot jam up in microwave for 10 seconds or until melted to brush on the cake. Lay fondant on top, smooth fondant out and cut off excess. Add something special to decorate the top, and there is your very special christmas cake!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Cake - Part 1

Christmas Cake - Part 1 

Soaking the fruit

Christmas is only 3 days away! (Which makes it my mum's birthday- Happy birthday mum!). As usual, this time of year flies by, but thankfully in the rush I found some time to get my Christmas cakes done. Ever since I was passed on my Grandmothers recipe a few years ago, I've made a few batches up each year.  Two lots of this recipe makes one big one to eat on Christmas day, and a number of smaller cakes which have ended up as presents. This recipe was even used as our wedding cake!

You will need to start this a few days ahead to let all the fruit soak in the alcohol to let the rich flavour soak through.

Start with a whole heap of dried fruit. I have made a few amendments to the original recipe, added some dried cranberries, switched the currents for extra sultanas, left out the dates- but the great thing about fruit cake is that you really can't go too wrong in your mix of fruit.

Dried fruit:
250 g sultanas
250 g currants
250 g raisins
60g dried apricots
60g dried pineapple
60 dried figs
60g dried prunes
60g dates (I switched these for dried cranberries)
125g chopped peel
125g glace cherries

Chop all the dried fruit up (if not already in small pieces) and mix in together in a big bowl, or a big tupperware container.

Also take 60g almonds, and 60g walnuts, and chop them up very fine.
Throw those in the mix, and stir it all around
 Now take your 3 friends- rum, brandy and sherry.
 Pour in 2 tablespoons of sherry, 2 tablespoons of brandy, and half a cup of rum. My grandmother's recipe says "I add more" so you can let loose and add as much as you like!
 Cover it up with some glad wrap, and let it sit for 2 days, or weeks, or as long as you have until you need to make the cake.
Oops forgot the glace cherries - they went in a little later
 All ready to go for when you make the rest of the cake!
See Part 2...