So it gets to November and thoughts turn to Christmas and in particular getting ahead with Christmas baking. I made my Christmas cake on Remembrance Sunday this year – remembering my mum whilst using her old mixing bowl and Christmas cake tin.
I didn’t use her “recipe” – which amounted to a vague scrawling down of ingredients and costs in various years – as it seemed too much like a GBBO challenge where you have to guess the method, cooking times etc
But I do recommend for this sort of thing that you use a recipe! I used Pam Corbin’s from the River Cottage Handbook, Cakes. Actually, I didn’t follow it to the letter because I’m not that obedient! So I’m going to link you to Pam’s recipe and then post here the ingredients I actually used.
Mum’s tin was 23cm across – technically 9″ actually since centimetres didn’t exist when it was made I am sure – so here’s what I did.
- 300gr Currants
- 200 gr Sultanas
- 400gr Raisins
- 120gr Dried Pears
- 230 gr Dried Berries and Cherries (not glace)
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 4 tbsp Rum
- 250 gr plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 200 gr soft brown sugar
- 250 gr softened unsalted butter
- 6 eggs beaten
- 1 lage tbsp black treacle
- 100gr chopped Pecans
- 200gr grated cooking apple
First check you have all the ingredients you need! There is nothing worse than getting half way through a bake and finding you don’t have enough sugar or whatever!
Prep your tin – line it with greaseproof and tie brown paper around it with string. (This took me right back to the 70s watching Mum tie up the Christmas cake tin with brown paper and string!)
Then add all your fruit, the zest, and the rum to a large bowl (first seven ingredients) and warm in the oven at 130degrees for about half an hour. This will plump up the fruit and start the heady Christmassy aromas going.
Then add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl or food mixer – flour, salt, sugar, and spices. Mix well.
Then add the wet ingredients – the softened butter, 3/4 of the beaten eggs, and the treacle. Beat well until light and creamy, then add the remaining egg and beat again till all combined.
Finally add the cooled dried fruits, the nuts and the grated apple and fold in. (I used Mum’s silver table spoon to do this. It made me happy.)
Once all combined, add the mixture to the prepared cake tin, and bake for 3-31/2 hours at 145 degrees, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Finally, once baked, spoon some more rum or brandy onto the warmed cake. Wrap it up and feed weekly with extra rum or brandy.
I shall cover mine with marzipan and icing nearer the big day. I hope you have a go, either at Pam’s original recipe, or my slightly adapted one. It smelt fantastic as it baked and I can’t wait to crack it open and enjoy it with a nice slice of Wensleydale.
I have to admit it costs more than it did in the 1970s!