You may have noticed a bit of a theme going on my blog recently – last minute! I have just started a new job making the desserts in a local pub, and I am struggling to fit in work, life, blogging and Christmas. I don’t know how you all do it! One thing that has completely gone out the window the last few weeks (along with exercise) is reading other people’s blogs and I really miss them. I am planning a complete overhaul of my life and blog in January and am looking forward to getting a bit more balance in my life.
But in the meantime, Christmas Cake! Although the ideal Christmas cake is made weeks in advance and fed with brandy on a regular basis, you can still make a delicious last minute Christmas cake. I have had two attempts at this. The first time I thought I had completely dried the cake out as I put it in the oven and set it to turn off automatically. I forgot to take the cake out so four hours later when I remembered it the oven was still warm and the cake seemed solid. I thought it was ruined and decided to make another one but we are currently eating the first one as plain fruit cake and it is absolutely delicious. So I can already vouch for this recipe.
I found it online when searching for last minute Christmas cake recipes and it is by Paul Hollywood. I changed a few of the dried fruit quantities around, substituted the glacé pineapple for cranberries and added a tablespoon of treacle (I really don’t think you can have a Christmas cake that doesn’t contain treacle). This is my slightly amended version:
225g dried apricots, chopped
115g prunes, chopped
50g dried cranberries
225g glacé cherries, chopped
200g chopped candied peel
100g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
225g butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon treacle
280g plain flour
Put all the dried and glacé fruit, nuts, mixed peel and orange zest into a large bowl.
Pour over the brandy and orange juice and mix well. Cover and leave, ideally overnight but at least for as long as it takes you get everything else ready.
Set the oven to 150ºC. Line an 8″ deep sided, loose based cake tin with baking parchment. Make sure the base is fully covered and that the paper lining the sides sticks out above the top.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, one at a time.
Mix in the fruit mixture and treacle and then fold in the flour.
Turn into the cake tin and bake for 3 hours. Test to see if it is ready by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean it is ready. It may need another 15-30 minutes.
Allow to cool completely in the tin. Store wrapped and in an airtight tin until you are ready to marzipan it.
I used a 9″ board for the cake so that the marzipan and icing layers would take the cake to exactly the same size as the board:
I used the same ribbon decorated with holly and glitter last year but the cake I made wasn’t deep enough for it. This year I was really pleased to find it again and even more pleased that the cake was deep enough.
It is a good idea to leave the marzipanned cake for a couple of days, if you can, to dry out a little before icing the cake.
I brushed some apricot jam onto the cake to make sure the marzipan would stick.
Paul Hollywood uses royal icing for his cake but I have used sugarpaste. When you have iced your cake you can make your decorations as simple or as complicated as you like. I made holly leaves and berries because of the ribbon, although I was very tempted to do a Christmas tree instead… Maybe next year.