Time To Bake The Christmas Cake...

Time To Bake The Christmas Cake…

by Linda James

Linda James creates this fruity Christmas cake that benefits from being made well before so you can ‘feed’ it Drambuie to keep it moist, tasty and just a little bit naughty

Preparation: 1-2 hours, plus overnight soaking

Cooking time: 3 to 4 hours Makes: 25-30 slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 750g vine fruit mix 250g soft apricots, quartered
  • 200g cut mixed peel 200g glacé cherries, halved
  • 100g pitted soft prunes, quartered
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 100ml Drambuie, plus extra to ‘feed’ the cake
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 5 medium eggs, beaten
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 200g walnut pieces

FOR THE ICING

  • 500g ready to roll regal icing
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

FOR THE MARZIPAN

  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 500g marzipan
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

METHOD

  1. Place all the dried fruit in a large bowl then stir in the grated orange zest and juice, and the Drambuie. Cover and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square (or 23cm diameter round) cake tin with baking parchment so it stands 5cm above the top. Use string to tie a double thickness of baking parchment around the outside of the tin. This will help prevent the cake from drying out during cooking.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand-held electric whisk to beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the beaten egg, a little at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle, add a spoonful of flour with the last few additions of egg.
  4. Add the soaked fruit and walnuts, with any remaining liquid, mix well. Fold in the rest of the flour. Spoon into the cake tin, level the top of the mixture. Stand the tin on a tray and bake for 3-4 hours until cooked, covering the top of the cake with foil if it starts to over-brown. When a skewer comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
  5. Remove the cake from the tin and store in its lining paper, wrapped tightly in foil. Keep in a cool place. Feed the cake every few weeks by making small holes in its top, then drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of Drambuie. This will help to keep the cake moist and add extra flavour. If the cake has domed in the centre neatly slice off the top before covering with marzipan. To ensure a completely flat surface turn the cake upside down before decorating.
  6. To marzipan the cake: in a small saucepan, warm the the jam with 1 tablespoon of cold water then sieve to get rid of any lumps. Place the cake on a board and brush with the warm jam. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to a 35cm square. Lift over the cake and ease to fit smoothly around the sides. Trim off any excess. (If you don’t want to ice it straight away, cover with Cling film and store in a cool place for up to a week.)
  7. To ice the cake: first, lightly brush the marzipan with water. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the regal icing to a 35cm square. Lift over the cake and ease to fit smoothly around the sides. Trim off any excess. Dust your palms with icing sugar and gently ‘polish’ the surface of the icing with the heel of your hand to smooth out any creases. Wrap any leftover icing in Cling film to decorate the top of the cake.
  8. Decorate how you wish. Once decorated, cover the cake loosely and store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks before Christmas. If you wanted to make as presents just increase the volume, put the extra into smaller cake tins and decorate with fruits and nuts.