I’ve posted my family’s Christmas cake recipe several times over the years. It’s a wonderful cake, a recipe passed down from my grandmother over a hundred years ago. It continues to be made with great tradition and enthusiasm 4 generations on by sisters, mothers and daughters!
It’s certainly one of the baking experiences I look forward to every year at Christmas time.
The original cake recipe was for a “12 Pound Christmas Cake”. The recipe probably originated from the 1800s and was the recipe for the bottom tier of a wedding cake.
This version of the cake is very big – and will feed a lot of people! My sister still makes this cake, and I do on occasion. My favourite version of the cake however, is the “half size” cake, which I generally make each year.
It’s the quantities and method for this version I’ve listed below.
I’ve included a number of photos of the cake – same recipe, but made at different Christmas times.
250g brown sugar
315g plain flour
125g glacé cherries
65g glacé peaches
65g glacé pears
125g glacé apricots
65g glacé pineapple
65g crystallised ginger
65g mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon 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.
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.
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.
Bake about 1½ to 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 ½ 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.
Almond Icing (Marzipan Icing)
250g ground almonds
375g icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of ½ 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.
2 egg whites
500g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Beat eggs lightly, add icing sugar and lemon juice.
Apply to cake with a palette knife. Be generous with this icing, to create a “snowy” effect.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours.
The cake keeps well – up to a year – although it is at its best when eaten within 3 months. But it never lasts beyond New Year in my house!