Christmas Cake

I went from buying shop bought Christmas cakes for years, thinking I must get around to making my own, to last Christmas when I made four. Why the sudden urge?
Well my grandmother died late last year and there were loads of family around and we just started baking. It was a wonderful experience talking of food of family. My grandmother was a wonderful cook and she loved baking. We all associated different foods with her. For me she was yo-yos and shortbread.

Rich Christmas Cake
500g cranberries
1 kg mixed dried fruit
1 c chopped dates
150g crystallised ginger
150g glace cherries
150g mixed peel
1/2 c brandy, more or less
1/2 c orange juice
1/4 t almond essence
1/2 t vanilla essence
2T grated orange rind
2t grated lemon rind
1c blanched almonds, chopped
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1t mixed spice
250g butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2T golden syrup or treacle
4-5 eggs

whole almond for decoration (optional)
1/4c brandy for later

Preheat the oven to 140 C fanbake.
Double line a square 25cm cake tin with brown paper, then a third layer with baking paper.
Put all the fruit, brandy, orange rind, and orange juice into a saucepan.
Bring to a simmer.
Remove from the heat. Stir.
Soak overnight or up to a few days. (I left mine for a week stirring daily)
Add essences, lemon rind and almonds. Stir.
In a separate bowl sift the flour, soda and spices. Set aside.
In another separate bowl cream butter, sugar and golden syrup until light and fluffy.
To the butter mixture add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.
Fold in sifted dry ingredients alternatively with the butter mixture to the fruit.
Do not over stir.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin.
Arrange almonds on top for decoration. (optional)
Bake at 140 C for 2 hours.
Reduce heat to 120 C for 1 hour. Then check every 15 minutes. Should take 3-4 hours.
Test to see if the cake is ready by placing a skewer into the cake. It should come out clean. If the cake begins to brown place a piece of brown paper over the cake.
Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
Skewer the cake all over the top and pour 1/4 c brandy over.
Wrap in aluminum foil. Store in a dry place.
Cake best eaten after one month. This allows time for the fruit to moisten.
Cake can be eaten with almond decoration or it can be iced.
If icing the cake spread jam on cake first and between each layer so the icing stays in place.
Cake freezes well.

If you buy almonds with the skin on, place them in a shallow bowl and pour over boiling water. The skins should be easy to remove after a few minutes.

Lining the tin takes time. Doing this the night before is a good idea.
This cake is a very rich fruit cake.  If you have other fruit, say, dried apricots then substitute them for other fruit. If you don’t have enough fruit then the cake will be lighter.
Soaking fruit overnight.
This time we made two cakes and used 20cm square tins, we made 1 1/2 volume of the mixture for the two cakes.
This cake has just been skewered and the brandy poured over generously.


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