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Christmas Cake 2015

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I make the same Christmas cake each year. I make it really late in the year and it never stays round for long. It’s a recipe that’s been in my family for ages.

I blogged the recipe this time last year – so why blog it again? Nothing’s changed, except this time I made it round, not square! I love making the cake, so I’ve written about it again and with photos of the process to show how easy the cake is to make. I even make this cake in the food processor, to simplify it further. It’s rich with glace, crystallized and dried fruit and it’s iced with an almond (marzipan) icing topped with royal icing.

While watching a Great British Bakeoff Christmas special, I noticed the similarities between Mary Berry‘s recipe and my cake. The recipe below is our family one but I decided to use Mary’s royal icing recipe with a good result.

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Ingredients

250 gms butter
250 gms brown sugar
315 gms plain flour
375 gms raisins
375 gms sultanas
125 gms  glacé cherries
65 gms glacé peaches
65 gms glacé pears
125 gms glacé apricots
65 gms glacé pineapple
65 gms crystallised ginger
65 gms mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
1/2 tsp glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method
Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper or aluminum foil. I use an 18cm or 7″ square tin  or a 18cm or 7″ diameter round tin. You may end up with left over mixture with this size, so you could go up a size. I like a high cake and this cake doesn’t rise so you can fill the smaller tins fairly full.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C then turn back to 135 degrees C.  The principle of cooking a rich fruitcake is to put the cake into a preheated oven and cook very slowly. This size cake does take a long time!
The original recipe says to mix by hand in a large basin. This was lots of fun when we were growing up making the family Christmas cake but now I suggest using an electric mixer.
Cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time.

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Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit the larger varieties of which have previously been cut roughly. There is no need to wash the fruit. If the fruit is wet it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake.

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Bake about 1- 2 hours or until the top is pale brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.  It’s a little hard to be more precise than this as the weather, the quality of the flour and individual ovens have a lot to do with cooking time. You can put a piece of foil over the top of the cake during the last hour of cooking if the cake browns too quickly.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour 1/2 a cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cake and wrap in a towel till cool.
Turn out of the tin onto a board or large flat plate.

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Almond Icing
250 gms ground almonds
375 gms icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of  1/2  lemon

Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into sections – one large ball for the top of the cake, the rest for the sides of the cake.
Brush the cake with apricot jam which will help the almond paste to stick. Let the cake rest for a day.

Royal Icing – Mary Berry recipe

Ingredients

675 g icing sugar
3 free range egg whits
3 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp glycerine

Method

Sieve the icing sugar. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they become frothy. Add the icing sugar to the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, and fold in. Add the lemon juice and glycerine and stir. Beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks. Spread over the top and sides of the cake and rough up the icing with a spatula so that it forms peaks.

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