Traditionally, Christmas cakes and puddings are made 5-6 weeks before Christmas, although some recipes work well if you make them closer to Christmas. This tradition dates back to Victorian times and is still a fun tradition to take part in with the family.
Each member of the family traditionally takes their turn to stir the mixture while making a wish. You stir the mixture going from east to west to represent the journey the three wise men took in the Nativity story. Historically, lucky charms were added to the mixture (coins or thimbles), said to bring to good luck to whoever found them in their slice of cake or pudding. Today, it is safer to just add the fruits and spices in your cakes and puddings!
Why not try baking your Christmas cake this year? I’m sure you will find all the ingredients you need in your local supermarket.
Decorate it with white fondant icing or enjoy it un-iced and top with chopped nuts, dried fruits or homemade gingerbread biscuits.
(Information & recipe from Marks & Spenser UK)
- 400g sultanas
- 250g raisins
- 200g currants
- 150ml brandy
- 130 unsalted butter, room temperature
- 180g dark muscovado sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 160g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 25g candied mixed peel
- 150g glacé cherries
- Zest of 1 orange
- 50g flaked almonds
Soak the sultanas, raisins, and currants in 100ml of brandy overnight or for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2. Grease and line a round, deep 8-inch cake tin with parchment, ensuring the parchment protrudes a few centimetres above the top of the tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Mix together the dry ingredients then beat into the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the candied mixed peel, glacé cherries, orange zest and flaked almonds. Stir in the soaked fruit and its liquids. Pour mixture into the tin and gently smooth out the top.
Bake for 2¾-3 hours, or until the cake feels springy in the centre when lightly touched and a skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Make small holes across the surface of the cake using a clean skewer. With a pastry brush, brush over 50ml of brandy until it soaks into the cake. Wrap it tightly in a double layer of parchment paper and foil then store in a cool dry place until required.
To decorate your cake, brush all over with apricot jam, then cover with marzipan and white fondant icing.
Make balls from any excess icing and use to create a striking minimalist design (pictured above) – this looks stunning simply garnished with a fresh bay leaf and red ribbon.
Or go all-out decorating with chopped nuts, dried fruits or homemade gingerbread biscuits.
Or do nothing more to it and enjoy it as it is!