Let me start by saying this: if you don’t want your Christmas cake to pack a serious boozy punch then this is not the cake for you. This is for grown ups only.
You may also be wondering why I’m talking Christmas cake so early… well, the clue is in the title. This cake takes some serious maturing. So this recipe will be broken down into a rough schedule to help you pack the biggest boozy punch into your Christmas cake. I have written this recipe so it’s easy to make half, the written recipe is for a large family sized cake.
Soak 1kg of mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried peel – the works) in 200ml of whichever booze you choose. I start soaking in early September in a clip sealed lunchbox and give it a good shake once or twice a week, whenever I remember really. This just makes sure all the fruit gets a good soak and not just the bits at the bottom.
This year I am using Honey Jack Daniels, last year I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and the year before I used cheap supermarket own Brandy. It all works and it’s all preference.
If you skip this stage you can just soak for an hour before you bake but I prefer a good mature soak.
Time to bake!
At some point in the first week of October you need to bake your cake. Don’t worry about it going stale or going bad, you’re going to spend the next two and a half months feeding it more alcohol.
Here’s what you need:
LARGE mixing bowl
LARGE tall sided cake tin.
Baking parchment or bake-o-glide
Your pre-soaked fruit plus another 50ml of your chosen alcohol
250g Butter (because of allergies, we use dairy free spread or baking blocks and they work very well)
200g Soft Brown Sugar (light or dark)
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
200g Plain White Flour
100g Ground Almonds
100g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Baking powder
4 Large Eggs
1. Put the fruit, booze, sugar, butter, spices, vanilla, zest, and juice into the saucepan and gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for at least half an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your baking tin. A circle at the bottom as usual but the paper around the edge needs to be around twice the depth of the tin and sticking out the top. It’s a good idea to check your oven shelf is the right height to accommodate this before the oven gets hot.
4. Add the remaining ingredients, leaving the eggs until last and beat well.
5. Transfer the mix into your prepared tin and bake for 2 hours. If you end up with too much mix you can bake whatever you have left in a loaf tin or muffin tin and enjoy them before Christmas! (Smaller cakes will need less time in the oven so check regularly once the first hour has passed)
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before poking a generous number of holes into the top of the cake with a skewer, fork or spoon handle and feeding it 25ml of your chosen alcohol.
October, November and December
You can store your cake in the baking parchment it was cooked in, wrapped in a cloth or tea towel or wrapped in cling film if you have nothing else. It’s best to then keep it inside a tub or a tin as well.
Feed it 10ml weekly or 20ml every two weeks until two weeks before the date you would like to ice it. If you feed it too close to icing it, it will be too wet to ice.
Traditionally, I ice my cake on Christmas eve, possibly because no one can be trusted not to eat it once it’s iced. I will hold my hands up to this: I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing. It’s partly a skill thing, partly a cost thing, partly a time thing. The end result is the same so I won’t lose sleep over it. You can also leave the cake naked if you prefer.
1. Roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the entire cake
2. Brush the cake with some warmed up marmalade or citrus jam. One year I used ginger preserve which was delightful.
3. Lay the marzipan over the now sticky cake and smooth down the edges
4. Trim off the excess marzipan and save it for later
5. Repeat the above steps with the icing but substitute marmalade for vodka of you have it or whichever alcohol you have been feeding your cake.
6. Add any embellishments to your cake that you would like and try not to eat it straight away.
The leftover marzipan and icing
I make it into sweets. It’s the best.
1. Roll the icing into a long flat strip and inch or two wide
2. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape the same length
3. Moisten the icing with a dab of water (child friendly)
4. Roll the icing around the marzipan nice and tight
5. Cut the roll at 1/4 inch intervals to make small festive treats