Recipe Homemade Christmas Cake

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OK, this is a once a year epic, you have been warned. It is best made around October half term and stored until Christmas. It is stunningly moist from the apple juice, but very heavy and simply wonderful for a hungry cyclist/mountaineer. We have omitted from the orginal recipe what we don't like, so no candied peel, no currants, no marizpan, no icing... It is the volume of fruit that is important, so mix and match as you please. It is actually cheaper to buy a shop bought Christmas Cake than buy the ingredients for this cake, but I can promise you it will not taste anywhere near as good.

When we were out mountaineering at Christmas we would have a minature one available for Christmas Day lunch, dug into a snow drift...

Christmas Cake
You will need lots of time, lots of big bowls and plenty of patience. I usually pick over the fruit on a Friday night watching TV.... it helps. And if you want a minature one available, you will need to have an empty tin of sweetcorn - you know the size. It is the tin you are after, not the sweetcorn.

Ingredients
875g raisins
875g sultanas
200g glace cherries (the dark natural ones)
300g sour cherries (best ones I have found are from Sainsbury's)
100g chopped roasted hazelnuts
100g blanched whole hazelnuts
100g blanched almonds
75-100g ground almonds
175g plain wholemeal flour
175g softened butter
175g (50/50) molasses & dark brown soft sugar
2 tbsp black molasses (treacle is too sweet, so don't be tempted)
5 largish eggs
1 large or 2 small lemons – rind and juice of.
1 bottle dry apple juice (it is essential it is dry not sweet apple juice)
1 tsp mixed spices

Method
Start the day before. Pick over all of the dried fruit (875g raisins & 875g sultanas) picking out stones & stalks. Rinse the fruit briefly under boiling water and put into a large bowl, add the apple juice and cover, leave overnight, mixing up occasionally.
Cream the butter with the sugar very thoroughly. It will eventually go fluffy and golden (honest).
Slowly add the black molasses whilst whisking.
Mix the flour, mixed spices and ground almonds in another bowl and slowly stir in the butter/sugar mixture, adding the eggs one at a time with plenty of flour to prevent curdling.
Mix in the lemon juice, rind and chopped & whole hazelnuts (but not the whole almonds).
Wash the glace cherries in boiling water and chop into quarters with scissors, retaining 1 whole cherry.
Drain the fruit that was soaking overnight, add in the sour cherries & glace cherries and mix.
Now stir in the flour mixture, so that all of the fruit has a thin coating.
You need an 8” round cake tin which needs to be double lined and greased with a nut oil (do not use olive/sunflower, it will taste odd, get something like hazelnut oil).
Set the oven to 140C (275F or Gas Mark 1) and press the mixture into the tin. It will all fit, honest!

Hollow out the middle so it is about 1 inch below that of the outer edges to ensure it cooks properly; now add the blanched almonds in a spiral pattern over the top with a glace cherry in the centre.
Cook for 3½ - 5 hours (or so). Use the knife test to check the centre is cooked.
Leave in the cake tin until completely cold before removing.
Wrap in layers of greaseproof paper and then tin foil until well and truely air tight.

Store until Christmas.

(Photo's to follow, whole - once I have made it; sliced - well not until Christmas!)
 
OK - photos. It may look slightly over-cooked but it is not (we don't ice or marzipan our cake, so I decorate with blanched almonds which people fight over to get.) It took about 4hrs 45mins in the oven to cook through and will be a lot lighter coloured inside - but you will have to wait until Christmas for those photos.

IMG_4891.JPG



IMG_4893.JPG


These are the 2 smaller cakes that were made (I did a 2 cake recipe this year, one for me and 1 for my parents). The smaller cakes are for my Grandfather (who is now 90 years old) and were made in a sweetcorn tin which is an ideal size for 1 or 2 people only wanting a small qauntity of Christmas cake. (photos courtesy of my mum's facebook account...). The little ones took nearly 2 hours to cook through.

seetcorn tin use.jpg


The cake has now been wrapped in 2 layers of greaseproof paper and 3 layers of heavy duty, extra wide tin foil and will be left to 'mature' until Christmas. It will also last 6-8 months if kept in a sealed container after Christmas (assuming that it makes it through Christmas, usually here it does not) and makes for exceptionally good cycling/hiking/mountaineering food - generally you eat it really quickly because it is so very heavy you don't want to 'carry' it.

Serving Tip
For those who just like cheese, or for those who find Christmas cake too sweet, and for those not allergic to dairy (and something I really miss now) it is wonderful served with a slice of the freshest Wensleydale cheese you can get your hands on. :hungry:
 
Wow, that looks amazing. Really substantial!

Does it also double well as a doorstop? :wink:

Might have to have a word with you when NT and I finally get round to needing a wedding cake! We're intending to have at least one tier of cake, and one of cheese!

(and maybe a porkpie on top...)
 
Wow, that looks amazing. Really substantial!

Does it also double well as a doorstop? :wink:

Might have to have a word with you when NT and I finally get round to needing a wedding cake! We're intending to have at least one tier of cake, and one of cheese!

(and maybe a porkpie on top...)

Its good for slowing my OH down enough fro me to be able to keep up with him. I actually can't weigh the cake becuase my scales only go to 3.5kg and it is well off the top of them by a long shot.

As for wedding cake - would work very well. It's one of those recipes where I leave out everyting we don't like, like candied peel, marzipan and icing... (that's a he loves marzipan she hates it, she loves icing, he hates it issue resolved). As for making you a cake - that would be a first (and an honour). I am usually asked to do the photos! (done 4 now, 3 for free and 1 paid for, including my own, my brother's and my mother's!).
 
Looks amazing! just subscribing to this so I can give it a go for this Christmas :)
 
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