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I don’t actually like fruit cake!!  I spend a huge amount of time preparing, baking and decorating a cake that I will not eat!

My Mum always baked our Christmas Cake and the smell makes me feel like a child again: dark evenings, crispy leaves on the way home frm school and that warm sense that Christmas was coming.  I can’t imagine Bethany growing up without experiencing those smells!

So my Christmas cake is made largely for the purposes of nostalgia, so that I might pass on skill and tradition to my daughter and as an offering of love to visitors over the festive period.

I can never truly give you my Christmas Cake recipe as it changes every year!  Every time I make it I change the ratios of the fruit or add/take away fruit; I also ‘feed’ the cake with a different tipple every year.  I do this partly due to my belief that one day I will find a combination of ingredients that produces a cake that I enjoy!

It would appear that although I don’t like fruit cake, I am very good at making it: everyone else loves my Christmas cake!

So here it is; a combination of old family recipe, the influence of Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver and my own intuition.  Brace yourself – it’s quite a list!!

You will need:

625g of dried fruit.  (These could include; raisins, sultanas, apricots, cranberries, dates etc )

200g cherries (glacé or cocktail or both)

4 medium eggs

225g margarine

225g soft brown or dark brown sugar ( depending on how dark/rich you would like your cake)

225g plain white flour

125g ground almonds

3 teaspoons mixed spice (if you love ginger or cinnamon then substitute some of the mixed spice and have more of what you like!)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg (or ground if it’s easier for you)

zest and juice of 2 citrus fruit (oranges and lemons work better than lime unless you’re feeding with rum)

2 large bay leaves

ALCOHOL! All spirits work (except vodka – never tried vodka)

Preparation

  • Weigh out your fruit and put into a large bowl
  • Add bay leaves
  • Add grated nutmeg
  • Add the zest, juice and 1 teaspoon of spice
  • Pour approx 100ml of alcohol over the fruit and stir
  • Cover with a clean tea towel
  • The fruit should be left to soak up the alcohol
  • The next day add another tablespoon of alcohol and stir.
  • Repeat the last step for 5 days – the fruit will begin to swell and the liquid that remains will begin to look ‘syrupy’.
Baking Day
  • Preheat your oven to 150 or Gas mark 2
  • Line your tin.  This mix is best baked in a 20cm diameter round tin or an 18cm square tin
  • To line your tin first smear (it’s an ‘icky’ word I know) your yin with a very thin layer of margarine, then cover with greaseproof paper.  Cover the paper with another thin layer of margarine.
  • Put the ground almonds in the bowl of soaked, dried fruit and mix until the fruit is coated.
  • In another bowl cream together the margarine, vanilla essence and sugar.
  • Add this creamed mixture to the fruit and combine.
  • Whisk your eggs in a jug.
  • Into a large bowl, sift your flour and the remaining 2 teaspoons of spice
  • Slowly add spoonfuls of fruit mix and spoonful of whisked egg, stirring well after each addition.
  • Spoon into tin.
  • Create a newspaper collar for your cake as in the below picture, this will stop the top from burning whilst the centre cooks.
  • Baking times vary from 2 hours to as long as 4!  The best way to know when your cake is cooked is to listen to it – when the fruit stops ‘singing’ and hissing it is ready.
  • Allow your cake to cool in the tin – I leave mine over night!
  • Once removed from the tin, poke holes in the cake with a fork and spoon over a little of your alcohol.
  • Wrap in Greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container.
  • Once a week, remove your cake and ‘feed’ it by poking holes and adding more alcohol.  I turn my cake as I do this to prevent a soggy bottom!!
Your cake can be decorated a few days before Christmas!!  If you do use my recipe, I would love to see photos of your creations! x

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