So slice up that fruitcake and get ready to argue over the bit with the biggest helping of icing!
I love Christmas cake, the rich flavours and plump fruit nestled under a beautiful blanket of marzipan and icing. I’m part of a wonderfully large northern family and a great tradition that orginates from up nurrrf is Christmas cake and cheese! Yes! I kid you not. It has to be tried to be believed. Take a slice of a beautiful christmas cake and take a slice of a hard british cheese like a cheddar or a leicester and try it. I don’t have a scientific or logical explanation on why it works, but it does! Just put it down to a taste sensation!
Ok… so onto this recipe. I don’t know where Grandma got this from, it could be from Be-ro, Delia, Mavis or anyone else! But all I know is it works, it is beautifully moist and it is so soft and tender. The fruit are still plump and juicy and the sponge is perfectly spiced. You can add a bit more variety by adding different nuts, cherries or slices of stem ginger, but on to the recipe!
Ideally I make it about 4-6 weeks before December, time allowing. This means a few more opportunities to top up the sherry! I then will decorate the cake about 2 weeks before Christmas.
This makes a 1x 25cm round cake.
100g Stoned Prunes chopped
100g Mixed chopped peel
210ml Dry sherry
50ml Orange cordial
1 Large orange – rind and juice
1 Lemon – rind and juice
275g Softened unsalted butter
225g Dark soft brown sugar
5 Large eggs
275g Plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tbsp Apricot jam
1 tbsp Black treacle
1. The Night Before: Put all the dried fruit in large pan with the prunes and peel. Add 110ml of the sherry, cordial, rind and juice of the orange and lemon. Stir the mixture over a medium heat till the fruit steams (about 5-10mins). Turn into a bowl making sure no juices are wasted, cover immediately with cling film and leave overnight!
2. Baking Day: Pre-heat over to 140C/275F
3. In a large bowl cream softened butter with sugar till fluffy. Beat eggs together and put to one side and add 4 tablespoons of the beaten eggs to the butter and sugar, beat ensuring everything is fully mixed
4. Sieve all dry ingredients together then add 4 tablespoons of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture
5. Add alternate measures of the dry and egg mixture until it is full combined
6. Beat slowly in the jam and the treacle
7. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, mix in fruits until completely mixed through
9. Turn cake mixture into a greased or lined tin
10. Smooth top and bake for 4 hours. Test cake, by skewer in middle, if not cooked try 15 more minutes and test again
11. Remove cake from over, while still warm sprinkle over 100ml of sherry and leave to cool in the tin, leaving cake uncovered for 24hrs
12. After 24hrs wrap the cake in foil or parchment paper and store in an airtight box until you are ready to decorate. I would leave it at least 2 weeks in the box so it has time to settle and all the fruit can fully take in all the extra sherry.
13. Have fun decorating and have a very juicy Merry Christmas!