Classic Christmas Cake

Over the years, I’ve toyed with other recipes: light versions and chocolate-infused versions to name just two, but I always return to this recipe – Delia’s – and have vowed to stray no longer – why muck about when this recipe is an absolute winner?! It’s moist and quite simply luscious but of course this is only the first stage. Before it can take it’s place at the centre of the table, there will be regular feeding with alcohol and finally, it’ll get all dressed up in home-made marzipan and icing complete with rustic snowy scene – these recipes and photos will follow. In the meantime, fill your home with the fabulous smell of Christmas that only this cake can truly evoke; bring on the sleigh bells!!!!

Serves at least 12 – 16

What you need…

1 x 20cm cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper or Bake O Glide

450g currants

175g sultanas

175g raisins

50g glacé cherries, finely chopped

50g candied peel, finely chopped

3 tablespoons brandy

225g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon mixed spice

225g unsalted butter

225g soft brown sugar

4 large, happy eggs

50g chopped almonds

1 dessertspoon black treacle

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Grated zest of 1 orange

What to do in October/November…

The night before you want to bake your Christmas cake, tip all the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel into a large mixing bowl, add the brandy and stir to evenly incorporate. Cover with cling film and leave overnight in a cool room.

The next day, preheat your oven to 140°c / 275°f / gas 1.

Smell your marinated fruit – wow – just wonderful. Stop mucking about and add the nuts, treacle, lemon and orange zests to the mix. Stir in and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, salt and spices. Set aside.

In your food processor, whizz the butter and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a jug whisk together the eggs. Then, gradually pour in the eggs, a little at time, whizzing the whole time to prevent curdling. Tip into the food processor the flour mix and whizz again until thoroughly incorporated.

Turn out the contents of your food processor into the fruit and nut mix and stir together so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed together. Turn the whole lot out into your cake tin, spreading it evenly with the back of a spoon.

Cover the cake with double square of parchment paper that you’ve cut a 50p-sized hole in the centre of. Secure the parchment to the tin with string around the side.

Pop the cake into the oven and bake for 4½ hours – enjoy the smell of Christmas as it drifts through the house.

After cooking, cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool down completely.

Use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake, pushing the skewer all the way through the cake. Then ‘feed’ the cake with a couple of tablespoons of brandy.

Wrap in double parchment paper and then foil and then store in an airtight tin.

Put a note in your diary to retrieve this glorious cake every 10 – 14 days to feed with a little more brandy until the week before Christmas – how much you feed it depends on personal preference and how boozy a cake you want! This is a lovely tradition that is such a central part of the build up to Christmas – I do love it so much.

What to do a few days before Christmas…

Marzipan and icing recipes and guidelines to follow, nearer the time! Look out for the final preparations around 20th December – watch this festive space!

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Very easy and a lovely comforting, relaxing recipe to do…

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