Christmas isn’t complete without the perfect Christmas cake. That’s why we simply must share with you our favourite Christmas cake recipe. Not too many ingredients and not too complex, it’s still sure to wow and add a touch of sparkle after you’ve finished your sprouts and pigs-in-blankets on the big day. You can even trade out some of the ingredients, swapping them with free-from versions if you prefer.
For the pre-soaking:
For the cake:
- 225g plain flour *
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ level teaspoon of grated nutmeg *
- ½ level teaspoon of ground mixed spice *
- 225g dark brown soft sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 dessertspoon of black treacle
- 225g butter at room temperature
- 50g chopped almonds *
- zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
For feeding and topping:
- Ginger drink or cold tea *
- 100g whole blanched almonds * (for a lower-sugar alternative to marzipan and icing)
* Available at Holland & Barrett
For the best results, pre-soak the dried fruit and cherries the night before. This should help stop the raisins from picking up that burnt taste during cooking. Throw them all into a bowl and mix them up with your choice of ginger, tea or a tipple. Cover them up and leave them to soak overnight.
Grab your cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper, so that the cake never actually touches the tin at any point. This will make things a lot easier later on.
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C, gas mark 1. Sift the flour into a big mixing bowl and add the salt, grated nutmeg and ground spices. Then mix in the eggs, treacle, butter and sugar and beat with an electric hand whisk until you have a lovely smooth batter. If you’re lucky enough to have a stand mixer you may prefer to use this – it will save you some arm ache at the next stage!
Gently fold in the soaked fruit mixture you prepared the night before, adding the chopped almonds and the lemon and orange zests. Transfer the cake mixture into the tin, spread it out nice and evenly and flatten. If you won’t be topping the cake with icing, now is the time to add the whole almonds to the top.
Now wrap the whole tin with double or triple folded greaseproof paper that is taller than the tin by about 2 inches. Tie it with string. Then make a ‘lid’ for this with greaseproof paper and cut a small hole in the top; about 10 pence piece sized. This shouldn’t touch the cake – it should sit up on top of the paper that is wrapped around the tin. Don’t be tempted to skip this stage – it’s important not to give your cake a dry and burnt outer.
Bake it ‘low and slow’; on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 hours. You might need to pop it back in for an extra little bit if a knife inserted into the cake afterwards doesn’t come out completely clean.
Cool the cake for 30 minutes, leaving it in the tin for this, and then pop it out onto a cooling rack.
Then at regular periods you can ‘feed’ your Christmas cake with whatever tea or tipple you soaked your dried fruit in. Make tiny holes in your cake with a cocktail stick or kebab skewer and spoon in the liquid. Wrap it in greaseproof paper followed by foil and keep it safe. Then, marzipan and ice it or just eat it as a yummy rich fruit cake. Et voila…Christmas cake recipe, done!