Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Special Christmas Cakes

Raisins 2-1/4 lb.
Currants 1 lb.
Dates, stoned and chopped 6 oz.
Prunes (4 oz.)Cooked, stoned and chopped.
Almond flakes 8 oz.
Butter 14 oz.
Raw brown sugar 14 oz.
Eggs 8
Grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange
Molasses 1 tablespoon
Flour 1 lb.
Salt 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon each of : ground nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon & ginger
Sherry 5 tablespoon

Grease and line a 10 inch round cake tin with a double thickness of greaseproof paper. Wrap a double layer thickness of brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string. Make sure the paper is twice as high as the depth of the cake pan.Combine the raisins, currants, dates, prunes and almonds in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the lemon and or the black treacle. If the mixture looks like it is starting to curdle stir in a little flour. Mix together the flour, salt and spices. Fold the flour mixture and the fruit mixture into the batter mixture a little at a time alternating between the flour and fruit mixtures. Stir in the sherry and ensure everything is well blended.

Traditionally all the members of the family take turns in stirring the cake and each makes a wish while doing so.

Put the mixture into the cake tin being careful not to create any air holes and remembering to smooth the top surface before placing the cake in the oven.

Bake in the oven at 300F for 1 hour and then reduce the heat to 275F and cook for a further 4 hours. If the top starts to overbrown then cover with greaseproof paper.

When you remove the cake from the oven leave it in the cake tin and allow to cool overnight - the cake can stay warm for up to 24 hrs. When cool remove from the tin and wrap in a double layer of aluminium foil until it is decorated. Occasionally unwrapping and treating with sherry or an alcohol of your choosing can ensure a moist flavourful cake but be careful not to overdo this and create a soggy cake! The cake will improve with keeping.


The traditional method of decorating a Christmas cake is with almond paste or marzipan and icing. You will need about 2 lb of marzipan to cover the cake.

Place the cake on the cake plate on which it will be presented.

Roll the marzipan out as thinly as possible and cover the top and sides of the cake. A thin layer of strawberry jam spread over the cake will help to 'glue' the marzipan to the cake.

To make the Royal Icing sift 12 oz. of icing sugar (confectioner's sugar for Americans) into a bowl. Beat two egg whites then fold them into the sugar. Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Brush the marzipan with a little egg white to help the icing stick to the cake then add the icing in a thin layer. The icing can be thickened if necessary with additional icing sugar.

A flat metal spatulla dipped in hot water will help to spread the icing but in general best results are obtained if the icing is 'worked' as little as possible.

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