How to make Christmas cake

Video guide to making a Christmas cake

Hi, I'm Jo and I'm going to show you how to make a traditional Christmas cake.

Mix together the ingredients

Now, in this bowl, I've a huge selection of mixed dried fruits which have been soaking in 150ml of brandy and the grated zest and juice of one orange. Now, the fruits that are in here are 450g of sultanas, 250g of raisins and 120g of small dark currants and 150g of either chopped apricots, figs or dates. Now, you can have a selection of all three or just stick to the one, it's entirely up to you. And I've also got in here 200g of glace cherries, which have been halved, and 110g of mixed dried peel.

Now this just needs to be mixed together and left to soak overnight and that will make sure that those fruits plump up in the brandy and the orange juice and it makes a really nice rich juicy cake once it's cooked.

Beat the butter and sugar

Now, in here are 250g of unsalted butter, which is at room temperature, and to that I'm going to add 200g of muscovado sugar. Now this is a really rich deep sticky sugar and it adds a nice depth and colour to the finished dish and a nice caramel flavour as well. So just scatter that over the top. And then beat until light and fluffy.

So that is nice and light and lets add the eggs. I'm going to add five whole eggs and I'm going to put them in all at the same time. And then you just want to whisk these together. The mixture may look as though its curdled slightly but don't worry because once you add all the rest of the ingredients, it will be absolutely fine.

So, next thing, I'm going to take all of our lovely mixed fruits and tip these straight in. Make sure you add all of that liquid as well that they've been soaking in, if there's any left in the bottom of the bowl. Lovely and plump and juicy

Stir in the fruit and nuts

And then in with some nuts. I've got a combination of pecans and macadamias and there's 200g here. Now you could use other nuts if you wanted to. Some walnuts or some Brazil nuts would also be really nice. And 300g of plain flour. Tip this straight in and then just mix briefly, making sure that the flour is just incorporated.

Now you need a really big bowl for this because it makes such a huge amount of mixture. This is ready to go into the tin. Now, I'm using a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin, which has been greased and lined with some baking parchment. Just spoon this in, packing it into the edges.

And then just press down with either the back of a wooden spoon or with a spatula, just to make sure that you level off the surface and then you'll have a lovely flat cake on top, which is great if you want to ice it afterwards. There we go, that is looking lovely.

Bake for 3-4 hours

Now, this will take three to four hours to cook in a pre-heated oven on 150 degrees centigrade. Because it takes such a long time for cooking, I'm going to put a double layer of baking parchment around the outside of the tin, just to make sure that it doesn't cook too much on the outside, it will slow down that cooking process. Just wrap around the outside and then tie with a piece of string, just to hold it in place.

So this is now ready to go into the oven. Now, after three hours, check to see if it's cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, it's ready. If not, pop it in for a further hour. If you're worried it's going to go too dark on the top, just take an extra piece of baking parchment, just a circle like this, and sit it over the top and that will stop the surface from going any darker. So in it goes.

Wrap tightly to store

Now the cake has cooked and cooled and can be served as it is. But you can also make this cake two to three months ahead of time. If you're going to do that, just wrap tightly in some baking parchment and tin foil and place in an airtight container. Traditionally, you can feed the cake and to do this, you insert little holes into the surface of the cake with a cocktail stick or a skewer and then sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of brandy. Now, this adds moistness and flavour to the cake. When it comes to finishing off the cake, you can do it the traditional way with icing, or keep it simple with a sprig of holly.

And that's how you make a traditional Christmas cake.

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