Christmas Cake

Makes one 8 inch cake

For the cake:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour  

  • ¼ tsp salt  

  • 1-2 tsp mixed spice  

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger  

  • 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg  

  • 1 ¾ sticks or 14 tbsp butter  

  • ¾ cups granulated sugar  

  • 2-4 tbsp brandy or sherry  

  • 6 eggs, beaten  

  • scant 2/3 cup (100 g) halved glacé cherries  

  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped  

  • heaping 1/3 cup (75 g)

  • mixed peel  

  • scant 1 1/3 cup (200 g) dried currants  

  • scant 1 1/3 cup (200 g) sultanas  

  • scant 1 cup (150 g) raisins  

  • 8 oz. apricot jam (for apricot glaze)

 

For the almond paste:  

  • 2 cups ground almonds  

  • scant ¼ cup granulated sugar  

  • ½ cup powdered sugar  

  • 1 tsp lemon juice  

  • a few drops almond extract  

  • 1 egg, beaten

 

For the royal icing:  

2 egg whites  

2 cups powdered sugar

 

Instructions (read through all instructions before beginning):

 

For the cake: 

  1. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan, double-line with parchment paper, then grease the paper. (To line the pan cut a long strip of parchment paper that is higher than the sides of the pan to wrap around the inside. Then cut a disc to lay in the bottom. Grease and repeat.) Set aside, and set the oven to 325ºF. 

  2. Stir together flour, salt and mixed spice into a smaller mixing bowl.

  3. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  

  4. Slowly add the beaten eggs and the brandy or sherry, putting in a little of the flour mixture if the wet mixture begins to curdle.  

  5. First stir in the cherries and walnuts. Then stir in the dried fruit, peel and the rest of the flour mixture.  

  6. Spoon into the prepared pan and make a slight hollow in the center.   Bake 45 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300ºF and bake for an hour. Then lower the temperature again down to 275ºF and bake for another hour until cooked through and firm to the touch. Cool completely in the pan.

  7. Cover the cake with apricot glaze, almond paste and decorate with royal icing.  

 

For the apricot glaze:  

  1. Warm the jam with 2 tbsp. water in a small pan over a low heat until the jam melts.  

  2. Sieve the mixture and return it to the clean pan, then bring it gently to a boil. Allow it to cool before using.  

 

For the almond paste:  

  1. Sift the almonds, granulated sugar and powdered sugar into a bowl. Add lemon juice, extract and enough egg to bind the ingredients together.  

  2. Knead lightly until smooth, then wrap in plastic wrap, cover it again with foil (to prevent drying out). Store in a cool place until needed.  

 

For the royal icing:  

  1. In a bowl completely free of grease gradually add the sugar to the egg whites while beating with an electric mixer on low speed.  

  2. Once all of the sugar in incorporated, turn the mixer up to high and beat until icing holds a peak (about 5 minutes).  

  3. To assemble the cake:   Brush the cake with the apricot glaze.  

  4. Cover with the almond paste.   Spread on the royal icing.  

  5. The icing will harden, so depending on what sort of decorations you would like to add, you can wait until it has hardened, or add them while it is soft.  

 

*The cake (without the glaze, paste or frosting) can be made up to four weeks in advance, wrapped in foil, and then poked with a skewer so that a little brandy can be poured over the cake several times before it is eaten. This is usually called “feeding” the cake.  

 

**A bean and a pea can be added if this cake is to be served at Twelfth Night.

 

 

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