Christmas Cake Baking Time!

Christmas Cake

The time has come!  You’ve been lovingly stirring and looking after your boozy fruit and after six weeks soaking it’s ready to be turned into your Christmas Cake!

Ingredients:

1 x Boozy Fruit Soak

225g butter, softened

150g light muscovado sugar

75g dark muscovado sugar

2 tbsps treacle

5 eggs, large

285g plain flour

2 tsp mixed cake spice

100g whole almonds (optional of course if you don’t like nuts!)

 

150ml brandy, for feeding the baked cake

Before we get onto making the cake read through the top tips covering frequently asked questions!

Christmas Cake Top Tips:

  • If you haven’t prepared your boozy fruit do it now (and then come back and tell me why you didn’t do it when I posted the recipe – bad Pink Whiskers!)  Soak it for at least a week, more if you can.  Once you’ve soaked it there may still be excess liquid with the fruit, heat the mixture gently in a pan until the majority of the liquid has gone, then continue with the recipe.
  • If you’re outside the UK can’t get hold of treacle, molasses is a good substitute.
  • Make sure your tin is deep sided (3″ deep), a shallow tin won’t do the trick here!
  • Be sure of your oven temperature, a long slow bake is what is called for to stop the cake from drying out too much and baking evenly.
  • Position your cake on a shelf about 1/3rd of the way up from the base of the oven.
  • Keep an eye on the baking – start checking your cake for doneness from 2 and a half hours in.  Insert a skewer in the centre and it should come out clean when it’s completely cooked through.  If your oven temp is any different to 110c then it may be done sooner, but it may also take longer if your oven runs cool.  You need to employ your cake testing skills!
  • When it comes to feeding the baked cake, you can miss this out completely if you would rather, wrap the cake well as described and set aside to mature.  The flavours of the cake still intensify and the fruit in the cake will soften and be delicious.
  • If you would rather you can feed with apple juice or tea for a non-alcoholic cake.
  • If you don’t have a tin big enough to store your cake it will be fine wrapped well with baking paper and foil alone.

You can also split your cake mixture into a batch of cakes of different sizes.

The full quantity is designed for 1 x 8″ cake which totals 1500ml.  If you want cakes of different sizes I’ve tested out bake times and quantity of the mixture for the following sizes.  Use the guide to split your batch between the cakes you want to bake.

 

Size Tin (round) Quantity of Mixture   Bake Time
2.5” (6cm) 150ml 1/10th 1 hour
4” (10cm) 500ml 1/3rd 2 hours
6” (15cm) 1000ml 2/3rds 3 hours
8” (20cm) 1500ml Full 3 hr 45 mins

Righty-ho on with the cake!

Preheat the oven to 110c (fan)/130c/Gas Mark 1.

(Ingredients are the same as previous years but the only change to the recipe is a lower temperature for a gentler baked cake.)

Cream together the butter and sugars until they’re light and fluffy.

Add the treacle and beat it in well.

Now for the eggs, add them one at a time working them into the creamed mixture before adding the next.

In goes the flour and mixed spice and a last mix up.

Now there’s the base for the cake.

Take your boozy fruit and fish out the cinnamon stick.

Add the fruit (no don’t eat it!) to the cake plus the whole almonds if you’re choosing to add them.

And now a last stir up!  Cake mixture done!

Time for the tins – line the base and the sides of a 8″ round, deep tin (at least 3″ deep”).  At this lower temp you don’t need to wrap around the outside of the tin with newspaper to protect the sides.

Fill with your cake mixture and bake it in the oven for 3hrs 45 minutes.

Keep an eye on the baking – start checking your cake for doneness from 2 and a half hours in.  Insert a skewer in the centre and it should come out clean when it’s completely cooked through.  If your oven temp is any different to 110c then it may be done sooner, but it may also take longer if your oven runs cool.  You need to employ your cake testing skills!

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake is cold remove it from the tin removing the baking paper from the sides of the cake but keeping the base disc in place, this will help keep in moisture as the cake is fed in the run up to Christmas.

On your worksurface lay out two large pieces of foil, one horizontally and one vertically. On top of that place two large sheets of baking paper. Finally position the cake in the middle.

Using a skewer pierce 30-40 holes in the top of the cake, only ¾’s of the depth of the cake though so that the brandy doesn’t run straight through!

It’s handy to put the feeding brandy into a jam jar, that way it’s ready whenever it’s time to feed the cake.

Using a pastry brush, brush over the entire top of the cake with the brandy. You are looking to add 1 or 2 teaspoons of brandy in each feed.

Once fed, gather up the baking paper and seal in the cake, repeating with the foil layer. No place the whole lot in a suitable container, I use an old Christmas sweetie tin which is just the perfect size!

Place the container into a cupboard or the pantry, it needs to be out of direct sunlight somewhere dry but don’t forget about it. Feed it every 3-4 days for the next few weeks or until the cake won’t absorb anymore.  If you come to feed it and it appears wet then leave it to soak in for a couple of days before adding anymore.

Christmas cake – done! Well for now, we’ll be decorating at the end of November!

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

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