Traditional Christmas cake

Traditional Christmas cakeI found this recipe in a Supercook magazine many moons ago.  It is an adaptation of one from the 19th century which used a staggering 30 eggs and several bushels of flour – I know I would be staggering under the weight of that cake tin!

It’s a traditional, dense fruit cake, moistened with alcohol and ready for the final layers of marzipan and icing.

It’s best made at least 2 – 3 months in advance as the flavour matures with age and you need time for it to soak up all the lovely alcohol.

Make a few holes in the top of the cake with a skewer before storing it and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of rum or brandy from time to time.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
Makes a 25cm round or
23cm square cake

INGREDIENTS:

1 kg raisins
500 g currants
125 g candid peel, chopped
125 g glacé cherries
4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
200 g blanched, slivered almonds
454 g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
350 g butter at room temperature
400 g dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
8 large eggs, beaten
75 ml rum or brandy
grease-proof paper
strong brown paper
string

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.

Lightly grease the inside of a deep cake tin and line it, base and sides with a double layer of greaseproof paper.

Cut a strip of strong brown paper 2½ cm wider than the depth of the tin and long enough to fit around the tin twice. Wrap the paper around the outside of the tin and tie firmly with string.

Place the tin on a baking sheet lined with a double thickness of brown paper or newspaper.

Put the raisins, currants, candid peel, glacé cherries, ginger and almonds into a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of the flour. Mix well to make sure all the fruit is lightly covered with flour. Set aside.

Sift the remaining flour, salt, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In another large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy then beat in the molasses.

Pour in half the eggs and mix well. Pour in the remaining eggs and stir until the ingredients are blended together.

Gradually fold in the flour mixture and then the fruit, a little at a time, making sure that no traces of flour can be seen on the fruit.

Pour in the rum or brandy.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing it down with a spatula, and make a shallow hollow in the centre. This will stop the cake rising too much in the middle.

Bake just below the centre of the oven for 1 hour.

Reduce the temperature to 140C/Gas 1 and bake for another hour.

Check that the top of the cake isn’t browning too quickly and if necessary place a piece of foil over the top.

Continue to bake for another 3 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Turn on to a wire rack and when almost cold remove the greaseproof paper from the bottom and the sides.

Leave the cake for at least 12 hours before wrapping in foil and storing in an airtight tin.

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