Christmas. It’s one of my favourite times of the year. There’s something special about this time of year but it’s hard to exactly explain it. There’s just magic in the air.
For a number of years I have been baking and decorating a Christmas cake every year for my family. While the decoarting may have gotten a little bit neater and stylish over the years, the recipe has largely stayed the same.
I started off with a little Kevin Dundon kit from Super Valu. I followed it (almost) line for line that year and the cake was delicious. However, I have a thing. A thing about always sticking to recipes. I much prefer to use a recipe as a guide and adapt little bits here and there to make it more personal.
That said, I invite you to use the below recipe as a guide. Mix and match with different fruits, different spices and different alcohol. I tend to only use red cherries but using a mix of red and green cherries makes the cake super super super festive.
Last year I was lucky enough to attend a half day workshop in Cooks Academy to help me to develop my skill and confidence with decorating Christmas cakes. A fantastic day that I would highly recommend for complete newbies and regular bakers and decorators alike.
I tend to bake my cake in October or November and “feed” it every two or three weeks with a dash of brandy. I aim to decorate the week before Christmas but I have been known to apply the icing on Christmas Eve…
Hope you enjoy!
200g caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
260g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
150g glace cherries, halved
Marmalade, marzipan, icing and extras to decorate (optional)
Prepare an 8inch/20cm round cake tin by lining the base and the sides with greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown paper or newspaper around the outside of the tin. Preheat the oven to 160C.
Cream the margarine, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. One-by-one, beat in the eggs and 4 tbsp brandy, if using. Gradually sieve and fold in the flour, mixed spice and fruit.
Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately two hours until the cake is firm to touch, or, when pierced with a skewer, it comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and pierce all over the top with a skewer. Drizzle over 2 tbsp brandy. Allow to cool completely in the tin before wrapping in a greaseproof paper, followed by tin foil. Every 2-3 weeks, drizzle with another 1-2 tbsp brandy up until two weeks prior to decorating.
If decorating, brush the cake with a layer of “no-bits” marmalade. Lay on the marzipan. Brush the marzipan with a layer of water. ay on the the icing. Decorate as you wish.