Welsh Witterings: Making the Christmas Cake
My Christmas preparations always start with making the cake and this is something that I get the whole family involved in. Some people like to make their Christmas cake months and months in advance whilst I always consider November the month for making Christmas cake.
I don’t think there is anything quite like a home made fruit cake. I must confess that I love a slice of fruitcake with a good cup of tea, but I must say that my last few tastes of fruitcakes whilst out and about have found me rather disappointed. Rather than rich and moist like my home made version, I have found that Christmas cake whilst out is dry with slightly burnt currants and a lack of flavour and I am always left needing a large pot of tea just to rehydrate my mouth. No wonder so many people say they don’t like fruit cake for Christmas, yet a home made Christmas cake can be a real festive treat.
For me a good Christmas cake starts with good ingredients and its really worth investing in the best ingredients you can buy, from good fruit to best butter.
- Butter the inside of a 10in/25cm springform cake tin then line the base and sides with a double layer of parchment paper.
- Cut a strip of parchment, higher than the depth of the tin, that goes twice around the outside of the tin and secure by tying in place with a piece of string or cooking twine. This should stand two inches higher (tall of) the tin.
- Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1.
- Put 1lb2oz/500g unsalted butter and 1lb 2oz/500g soft light brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix until pale and fluffy.
- Have ready 14oz/400g sifted plain flour and 3½oz/100g ground almonds. This is a test for your strength, you can either add and beat the eight eggs in (one at a time) by hand or pop the whole mix into a table top mixer with the ‘k beater’ attachment.
- After the adding of each egg add a dessertspoon of the flour
- Fold in the remaining flour and almonds with 2 tsp ground allspice and 2 tsp ground mixed spice.
- Now stir in 3½oz/100g grated fresh pumpkin pulp with 2 tbsp black treacle and 5 tbsp whisky, followed by the zest and juice of 1 orange.
- Finally, mix in the ground almonds, 7oz/200g currants, 7oz/200g dried cranberries, 7oz/200g sultanas, 7oz/200g chopped dried figs, 10½oz/300g raisins, 3½oz/100g dried pineapple or mango, 7oz/200g ready-to-eat prunes (chopped) and 7oz/200g ready-to-eat dried apricots (chopped).
- Pour into the tin, to about 1 inch above the rim.
- Bake for about 5-6 hours. Test to see if it is done by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, it is ready. Cool in the tin for about 45 mins then remove and allow to cool completely before wrapping and storing in an airtight tin to mature.
- You can marzipan and ice it a few weeks before Christmas.
Paying attention to lining the cake tin with plenty of baking paper is as important with this recipe as even on a low heat the cake with singe at the edges if you do not protect it adequately with paper. If you want good luck for the year then do not be tempted to eat it until Christmas Eve or beyond and in my household all the children have a stir of the mix and make a wish, just as we do with the Christmas pudding mix.