Christmas Cake

Serves 10-12

Christmas cake

1kg mixed dried fruit

250g glacé cherries, cut in half

100g mixed peel

100ml strong hot tea

2 tbsp marmalade

100ml alcohol (I use a mix of port, brandy, sherry & amaretto, but you can you the flavours you like or substitute the alcohol for orange juice)

Zest of 2 oranges

250g margarine

250g soft brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tbsp golden syrup

50g walnuts chopped

25g blanched almonds chopped

25g pecan nuts, chopped

100g self-raising flour

150g plain flour

2 tsp mixed spice

 

DECORATION WITHOUT ICING

Extra blanched almonds

Extra glacé cherries

Extra whole walnuts

3 tbsp apricot jam

 

DECORATION WITH ICING

500g golden marzipan

500g ready-to-roll fondant

3 tbsp apricot jam

Icing sugar for dusting

 

1 Put the dried fruit, glacé cherries and mixed peel into a large container. In a jug, mix the hot tea and marmalade until the marmalade has dissolved, pour over the fruit and mix well. Add the alcohol and orange zest and mix well. Cover and leave to soak, stirring each day, leave for a minimum of three days, but I sometimes leave mine for a week or two, which only adds to the flavour.

2 Grease and line a 20cm tin. I also line the outside of my tin to stop the cake from colouring on the side too quickly. 

3 Preheat the oven to 140ºC/gas 1.

4 Add the sugar and margarine to a large bowl and beat until light in colour and creamy. I prefer to use an electric hand mixer, but you can do it by hand. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until they are fully incorporated, if the mix starts to curdle add a handful of the flour. 

5 Add the flours, mixed spice, nuts, golden syrup and a pinch of salt, mix by hand until blended together. Stir in the soaked fruit and mix well.

6 Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface (at this point add your nuts and cherries for decoration if not using icing to decorate).

7 Bake in the centre of the oven for 4½-5 hours, it should feel firm to the touch, be golden brown and a skewer inserted should come out clean. Check after an hour and then every hour and cover with foil with the cake is colouring too quickly. Take out of the oven and leave to cool completely in the cake tin. 

8 When the cake is completely cool, wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper without removing the lining paper as this helps to keep the cake moist. Then wrap in foil and place in an airtight container, I find a sweet tin works best. This will keep for six months, so the ultimate make-ahead. 

9 If you want to feed the cake, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and pour over a little sherry, each week before Christmas. However, I never feed my Christmas cake, I always forget and this recipe doesn’t need it, the cake will stay rich and moist up until Christmas and beyond.

10 If you are not decorating with icing, when ready to serve, heat up the jam in a sauce pan and brush all over the top of the cake, I like to do two or three layers to make it very shiny.

11 If you are adding icing, when ready to decorate place the cake on the serving dish. Heat up the jam and brush all over the top of the cake. Using icing sugar to roll out the marzipan, I use the bottom of my cake tin as a rough guide to the size of my circle, cut it out with a knife and place on top of the cake. Roll out the fondant again using icing sugar, again use the bottom of the cake tin as a guide, but the fondant should be 2.5-5cm wider and I cut out the fondant with a wavy edge (when it’s added to the cake I want it to look a bit like snow). Brush the marzipan with a small amount on water and add the fondant on top. I use snowflake cutter to decorate the top of my cake. You can also make smaller individual cakes or two loaf tin cakes.

IMG_2180.jpg

MORE ABOUT KATIE…

Katie Davies, was a Quarter Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook, which was on BBC One. Katie was the only Welsh contestant and promoted Wales, Welsh cooking and Welsh produce throughout her time on the show. Katie is a busy working mother of 4, working as a 999 call handler for South Wales Police. Katie is a passionate home cook, with lots of recipe suitable for a young family on the go and for those looking for more of a challenge.

For more of Katie’s recipes check out her website www.katiehomecook.com or follow her on Twitter @katie_davies85_ or Instagram @katiedavies85.