Christmas Cake – Part 1


 Prep Time : 20 Minutes | Cook Time : up to 3 Hours | Total Time : up to 4 hours | Difficulty : Easier than you think

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Hello my lovelies! Less than six weeks to Christmas – the greatest of all the holidays! I have a wonderful new book on the way from Book Depository – its called Delicious December and it’s all about Dutch Christmas traditions and how they form part of our Christmas celebrations today. And there are recipes! For cookies! I’m sorry grinches but it’s time to think about getting fruitcakes ready if you are going to make your own. To make sure your cakes have time to absorb and develop the true taste of Christmas (liquor) then generally you should start a month out. Spend three weeks feeding your new babies with brandy or rum and then you have a good week to get them iced or decorated as you please! Christmas sanity is all about planning. This recipe is my interpretation of our family classic. I added some spices (natch) and switched up the fruit otherwise it’s generations deep. So long as you keep the total weight of fruit the same, feel free to use whatever you like. I recommend using about half of something simple like currants or sultanas though. This recipe can be baked up in various sized pans and smaller cakes make fab holiday gifts. Because I am the only one in our two person household that eats fruit cake I make the full mix up as 4 small cakes – one for me and the others to give away.

Heat the oven to 150C (300F). Prepare your cake pans. The larger the cake, the more protection it will need for it’s sides. For 5 inch cakes you will only need baking paper. For 6 inch cakes add a couple of layers of brown paper. cut them out the same way you would cut pieces of baking paper. Make sure the layer the cake will touch is baking paper. For a single 10 inch cake use 3 layers of brown paper and a layer of foil in addition to baking paper. Do not use a non-stick pan for this, especially a dark coloured one. They accelerate browning on the outside and we don’t want that here. If you have cake bands that go on the outside of cake pans use those instead on larger cakes. I haven’t used them before but if you get good results go with what you know!

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Cream the butter, sugar and zests together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running. Wait until the previous egg is incorporated before adding the next. The mix will split as you get past 5 eggs. It’s fine. It’s a lot of eggs to add.

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Sift the flour, baking soda and spices together.

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Mix all the dried fruit you are using together. Make sure all the pieces are chopped to about raisin size. Glace cherries are here for sheer nostalgic value.

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Take about half a cup of the flour mixture and toss the fruit in it. This will help stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom and also keep sticky things like figs from clumping together.

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Fold the rest of the flour into the creamed mixture.

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Add the fruit and nuts. There is A LOT of mixture and it is quite heavy to mix. You will need to use a metal or wooden spoon that is very rigid. Anything with flex to it will drive you insane. Start folding. It’s a good workout. If you are struggling to get the batter from the bottom properly incorporated, it can help to tip it out into a second shallower bowl. The bowl of a stand mixer is quite tall and narrow which is not ideal here.

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Once the batter and fruit are mixed, divide the mixture evenly between the pans. Smooth the tops, you need to get them pretty level as the mixture won’t settle much in the oven.

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Time to get baking! Bake cakes as follows, starting to check them at least 15 minutes before the lowest end of the range for the size you are making:

  • 5 inch cakes 80 to 100 minutes
  • 6 inch cakes 120 to 140 minutes
  • 10 inch cake 150 to 180 minutes

The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Test in a few places to be sure as the fruit can kind of ‘scrape’ off any uncooked batter when you pull the skewer out. Cool the cakes completely in their pans.

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When the cakes are cold, prepare them for their storage/brandy phase. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap, big enough to cover a whole cake and top with a sheet of foil the same size. Place a cake in the centre and fold/wrap up from the bottom.

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Slide the wrapped cake back into the cake pan and fold the foil and plastic wrap over the top to seal.

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Repeat for the other cakes. Leaving them in the pans ensures no brandy will leak out and keeps them safe. Using a skewer poke holes all over the top of each cake. Once a week for three to four weeks, drizzle brandy over the top of each cake as follows:

  • 5 inch cakes, 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • 6 inch cakes, 3 tablespoons
  • 10 inch cake, 4 tablespoons

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After each feeding, wrap carefully in the plastic and foil and store in a cool dark place. For decorating ideas and tips, I will write a separate post closer to Christmas. In the meantime, keep those babies hydrated!

Christmas Cake


Prep Time : 20 mins | Cook Time : up to 3 hours | Total Time : up to 4 hours | Difficulty : Easy | Makes : 1  10 inch cake or 4 x 5 inch cakes

Rich indulgent fruitcake, lovingly anointed with brandy – a beloved holiday classic.

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks (335 grams) butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (335 grams) sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 and 1/4 cups (450 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (115 grams) chopped almonds
  • Total 2.5 pounds/1.12 kg dried fruit, I used:
    • 2/3 cup (113 grams) chopped crystallised ginger
    • 1 cup (113 grams) dried cranberries
    • 2/3 cup (113 grams) candied citrus peel
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (113 grams) halved glace cherries
    • 1 and 1/2 cups (225 grams) chopped dried figs
    • 3 cups (450 grams) currants
  • 3/4 to 1 cup brandy or rum

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Standing or hand-held electric mixer
  • 3 inch deep light coloured pans (NOT not-stick) lined as follows (I use anodised aluminium):
    • 1 x 10 inch pan lined with 1 layer of foil, 4 layers of brown paper and a final layer of baking paper
    • 3 x 6 inch pans lined with 2 layers of brown paper and a final layer of baking paper
    • 4 x 5 inch pans lined with baking paper

Directions:

Heat the oven to 150C (300F). Prepare your cake pans. The larger the cake, the more protection it will need for it’s sides. For 5 inch cakes you will only need baking paper. For 6 inch cakes add a couple of layers of brown paper. cut them out the same way you would cut pieces of baking paper. Make sure the layer the cake will touch is baking paper. For a single 10 inch cake use 3 layers of brown paper and a layer of foil in addition to baking paper. Do not use a non-stick pan for this, especially a dark coloured one. They accelerate browning on the outside and we don’t want that here. If you have cake bands that go on the outside of cake pans use those instead on larger cakes. I haven’t used them before but if you get good results go with what you know!

Cream the butter, sugar and zests together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running. Wait until the previous egg is incorporated before adding the next. The mix will split as you get past 5 eggs. It’s fine. It’s a lot of eggs to add.

Sift the flour, baking soda and spices together.

Mix all the dried fruit you are using together. Make sure all the pieces are chopped to about raisin size.

Take about half a cup of the flour mixture and toss the fruit in it. This will help stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom and also keep sticky things like figs from clumping together.

Fold the rest of the flour into the creamed mixture. Add the fruit and nuts. There is A LOT of mixture and it is quite heavy to mix. You will need to use a metal or wooden spoon that is very rigid. Anything with flex to it will drive you insane.

Start folding. It’s a good workout. If you are struggling to get the batter from the bottom properly incorporated, it can help to tip it out into a second shallower bowl. The bowl of a stand mixer is quite tall and narrow which is not ideal here.

Once the batter and fruit are mixed, divide the mixture evenly between the pans. Smooth the tops, you need to get them pretty level as the mixture won’t settle much in the oven.

Time to get baking! Bake cakes as follows, starting to check them at least 15 minutes before the lowest end of the range for the size you are making:

  • 5 inch cakes 80 to 100 minutes
  • 6 inch cakes 120 to 140 minutes
  • 10 inch cake 150 to 180 minutes

The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Test in a few places to be sure as the fruit can kind of ‘scrape’ off any uncooked batter when you pull the skewer out.

Cool the cakes completely in their pans. When the cakes are cold, prepare them for their storage/brandy phase. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap, big enough to cover a whole cake and top with a sheet of foil the same size. Place a cake in the centre and fold/wrap up from the bottom.

Slide the wrapped cake back into the cake pan and fold the foil and plastic wrap over the top to seal. Repeat for the other cakes. Leaving them in the pans ensures no brandy will leak out and keeps them safe.

Using a skewer, poke holes all over the top of each cake. Once a week for three to four weeks, drizzle brandy over the top of each cake as follows:

  • 5 inch cakes, 2 tablespoons
  • 6 inch cakes, 3 tablespoons
  • 10 inch cake, 4 tablespoons

After each feeding, wrap the cakes carefully in their foil and plastic and store in a cool dark place. For decorating ideas and tips, I will write a separate post closer to Christmas. In the meantime, keep those babies hydrated!

Cook’s Notes:

  • The bake time ranges are wide – when the cooking time is long, variations between ovens can impact the time more – be vigilant!
  • So long as the fruit adds up to the total weight, use whatever fruit you like or can afford. I do recommend using about half of something basic like currants or sultanas though.
  • Make sure you chop the nuts and larger fruits to about raisin size – this will help significantly with cake slicing in the end
  • The pan sizes given are the ones I have tested the recipe in, if you want to make 2 x 7 or 8 inch cakes, start with the cooking time for the 6 inch cakes and then check regularly after that and make a note for future years the general rule of thumb is that the longer the bake time the more you need to protect the edges from over-baking

 – These cakes will keep a long time. You should be adding brandy or rum once a week for three to four weeks before icing. After they are iced they will keep at room temperature for up to a month if they are kept airtight. For longer storage freeze the cakes un-iced. – 

Adapted from years of Anderson family tradition.

© 2016 The Winsome Baker. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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