Sometime’s life moves on apace and I find myself running to catch up. What I needed yesterday was a relaxing day in the kitchen assembling the ingredients for the Christmas cake and watching the world go by whilst it baked and filled the kitchen with the heady scents of a Christmas to come. What actually happened was a lightening bake to the strains of Barwick Green neatly sandwiched between washing rugby kit and answering emails. And yes, I did have to get out of bed at near midnight to take it out of the oven. I’m sure Mary Berry is far more relaxed and organised.
You can read here about how Christmas cake is a bit of a moveable feast in this house. But here, as promised is this year’s recipe and method if you fancy trying it. It comes courtesy of local cake baker Sandra Monger with the inevitable tweaking I simply cannot resist.
90g glacé cherries
50g chopped candied citrus peel
60g Dried cranberries and blueberries mixed
finely grated zest of ½ a lemon and ½ an orange
275g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground mixed spice
225g dark brown sugar
4 medium free range eggs
2 tablespoons each sherry and dark rum
Preheat oven to gas mark 2 or 150 °C (130 °C for a fan assisted oven).Grease and double line a deep 8 inch/20cmcake tin using non-stick baking paper. Fold a 27 inch/69cmlength of brown paper to form a strip that stands 5cm above the depth of your baking tin. Place the paper around the outside of the tin and tie it in place with string. This extra brown paper will protect the cake edges while baking.
Gather, weigh and prepare the dried ingredients. Sort through the currents, raisins and sultanas and remove any stalks. Wash and dry the cherries and chop them in half.
Place the dried fruit, cherries, candied citrus peel and grated zest in a large bowl and mix well. Add 1 tablespoon each of sherry and rum and leave to stand. Mine stood for over a week!
Sift the flour and spices into a separate bowl.
Break the eggs into a jug, and whisk lightly with a fork.
In another big bowl cream the sugar and butter until light, fluffy and pale in colour. If you are using treacle add it now.
Add the whisked egg to the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time, along with a tablespoon of the sifted flour. .
Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the remaining flour. Then stir in the dried fruits. Combine well.
Spoon the cake mixture into the pre-lined cake tin. Use a wet spoon to ensure that the mixture is flat, level and smooth and that all the fruit is covered, to prevent it catching when baking.
Place a 9 or 10 inchsquare piece of non-stick baking paper over the rim of the cake tin to protect the top of the cake whilst baking.
Fold a piece of brown paper several times to make a nine or ten inch square, put it onto onto a baking sheet and place the full cake tin on top. The paper will protect the bottom of the cake from burning, and the baking tray will make the cake easier to remove from the oven. Place the tray and cake on a shelf in the center of the oven.
Bake for two hours then turn the oven down gas mark 1 or 140 °C (120 °C for a fan assisted oven). Bake for a further two hours.
After four hours, remove the cake from the oven and test with a metal skewer as baking times can vary. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is done. If not return to the oven and retest every 10 minutes until done.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin, with a clean tea towel placed over the top to keep the moisture in. Once the cake is completely cold, turn it out of the tin. Prick the top of the cake with a sterile skewer. Pour on the remaining sherry and rum, allowing the alcohol to soak into the holes before wrapping in greaseproof paper and an outer layer of foil.
Happy Christmas baking.