I love Christmas cake. I have been known to pretty much eat a whole Christmas cake over Christmas week, feigning innocence when I hear my husbands protests as he opens the empty cake tin.
In hospital we have a lovely lovely lady called Jo who comes and does Occupational Therapy with us. Of late we have been pretty festive, making bunting, Christmas stockings and decorations. The activity that really caught my interest was the making of Christmas cakes.
Truth be told I think Christmas cake is lovely with the fruit soaked in brandy. Strange enough in phych wards alcohol is a bit of a no no. However I can vouch that this cake is delicious, moist and perfect for those of us who don’t want to give our small children alcohol. So without further ado I give you Lovely Jo’s Lovely Christmas Cake.
Ingredients for no alcohol Christmas cake
1 lb (450 g) currants
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
6 oz (175 g) raisins
4 oz (50 g) glacÃ© cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
¼ pint orange juice ( or the juice from your orange and lemon you are zesting)
¼ pint warm tea
8 oz (225 g) plain flour
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (225 g) soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz (50 g) almonds, chopped (the skins can be left on)
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). Tie a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.
This recipe is adapted from Delia Smithâ€™s Christmas cake by Joanne Lawson
1. Method to make Christmas cake.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).
In a pan put the weighed out fruit, tea and orange juice. Put on a low heat on the hob and cook for about 20 minutes until nice and plump.
Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they’re all there.
The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water.
Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing.
Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it’s light, pale and fluffy.
Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated.
If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won’t curdle. If it does, don’t worry, any Christmas cake full of such beautiful things can’t fail to taste good!
When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in).
Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon.
Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking).
Bake the christmas cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don’t look till at least 4 hours have passed. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling.