Rich Christmas cake

Rich Christmas cake

By
From
The 12 Days of Christmas
Makes
1 × 24 cm square cake
Photographer
Mark Roper

Christmas cake means a large, rich fruitcake. This rich spicy cake made a few weeks or even a month or two before Christmas will age and mature, ripening to a truly festive cake. Top with a pattern of blanched almonds before baking. Some people prefer to top with almond paste and a sprig of holly, while others like the more elaborate and very beautiful iced version.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 1/4 cups raisins, roughly chopped
2 1/3 cups sultanas
1 1/3 cups currants
6 each of dried apricots, nectarines and peaches, finely chopped
3/4 cup mixed peel
3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup glacé cherries, halved
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup rum
250g butter
1 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
1 lemon, rind finely grated
2 tablespoons marmalade
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
blanched almonds, for decorating (optional)
2-3 tablespoons rum or brandy, extra
500g ready-made fondant
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Toss the dried fruit, mixed peel, almonds, cherries, brandy and rum together in a large bowl, separating the fruit pieces. Cover and set aside to soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease a 24 cm square cake tin. Line the base and sides with 1 layer of brown paper and 2 layers of baking paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon rind and marmalade.
  4. Sift the flour, mixed spice and baking powder together. Add 2 tablespoons of the sifted mixture to the dried fruits and toss through to prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Mix the remaining flour into the creamed mixture. Fold in the fruit. At this point it is easier to mix using your hands.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Level the top and drop the tin sharply onto the kitchen bench to settle the mixture. If your decoration is to be blanched almonds, arrange in a pattern around the top.
  6. Bake for 2¾–3¼ hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the tin. Sprinkle the hot cake with extra rum or brandy. Wrap in a clean tea towel and leave on a cake rack until completely cold. Wrap the cake in baking paper and foil and store in a cool dark place until ready to use.
  7. To cover the cake with fondant, trim the top of the cake to ensure it sits flat. Patch any holes on the cake with small pieces of fondant. Knead the fondant on a surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth. Roll to 7 mm thickness, approximately the size and shape of the top of the cake.
  8. Brush the cake with the egg white. Lift the fondant onto the cake with a rolling pin. Smooth the fondant with hands dusted with icing sugar. Trim the excess from the edge of the cake. Cut stars from scraps of fondant and decorate the cake with ribbon and stars.

Tip

  • If desired, you can replace the marmalade with golden syrup instead.

Tip

  • If the cake appears to be browning too much, cover with several thicknesses of paper.

Tip

  • To colour fondant, add a few drops of food colouring to the prepared fondant. Knead to evenly disperse the colour, adding more colouring if necessary so as to reach desired colour.

Tip

  • If you like to put a topping of marzipan on your cake under the fondant, buy a good ready-made marzipan, about 375 g, knead on a board dusted with icing sugar and roll out to fit the top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with a little warm apricot jam. Gently lift the marzipan onto the cake and press it lightly into place. Roll lightly to make a smooth top. Trim the edge. Allow 1 day to dry out then brush with egg white and top with fondant (as described above).
Tags:
The 12 Days of Christmas
Margaret
Fulton
Christmas
Xmas
holidays
festive
party
entertaining
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