Taken from the 13th issue of Jamie Oliver‘s monthly publication, this moist and rich fruit cake is nothing short of a grand celebration cake. Though I halved the proportions to bake a smaller cake, I believe it loses none of decadence and splendor as a Christmas table centerpiece. Following Jaime’s advice, I blitzed part of the soaked fruit for a soft, cake-like consistency and baked my batter in a 15cm pan at a temperature a little below 150oC for almost 2 hours. For the finishing touches, I scraped off the overcooked top, leveling it flat with a bread knife and patching up the rough spots with a scant layer of vanilla buttercream. In keeping with tradition, I topped the cooled cake with a thick coat of home made marzipan, smoothing it out with a layer of snowy white fondant icing. Merry Christmas everyone!
TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAKE
100g dried sour or glacé cherries
250g mixed dried fruits, finely chopped
400ml brandy or rum, plus extra
300g butter, room temperature
200g dark brown sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons treacle
300g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
150g ground almonds
150g walnuts, chopped
- The night before, place the dried fruit in a saucepan with the booze and bring mixture to a simmer.
- Pour into a bowl, cool, cover and leave to soften. The following day, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.
- Line base and sides of a 23cm round or a 20cm square tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
- You will need the side lining of greaseproof paper to be at 8cm higher than the round or square tin.
- If you like the cake to be particularly moist, blitz half the soaked fruit in a processor to make a paste.
- Stir it back into the rest of the fruit. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
- Grate in the zest of the lemon and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then, mix in the treacle. Sift flour.
- Combine spices and ground almonds. Mix into the butter mixture, alternating with the soaked fruit.
- Finally, fold in the walnuts. Spoon mixture into the lined tin and bake in the oven for about 3 hours.
- Check after 2½ hours and then every 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush with a little more booze. Leave it to cool in the tin.
- Remove after 5 minutes and place the hot cake directly onto a large sheet of tin foil. Wrap it up twice.
- This will retain the heat of the cake for as long as possible. After a few hours, remove cake from foil.
- Wrap the cooled cake up again in a double sheet of greaseproof paper and a double sheet of tin foil.
- Make sure you can access the cake from the top. Store cake in an airtight container for 2–12 weeks.
- Feed the cake the alcohol of your choice by gently pouring it over the top and rewrapping. Serves 16.