Classic Christmas cake
|75 g||Mixed peel, finely chopped|
|225 g||Butter, softened|
|225 g||Brown sugar|
|½ tsp||Mixed spice|
|1||Whole nutmeg, (½ tsp grated)|
|75 g||Blanched almonds, (chopped)|
|1||Orange, (finely grated zest)|
|35 g||Blanched almonds, (whole, to decorate)|
- The day before baking, place dried fruit, mixed peel and brandy in large bowl. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Line a 20cm round cake tin or 18cm square tin with brown paper and a lining of nonstick baking paper.
- Next day, heat oven to 140C (120C fan bake). Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs (at room temperature), one at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Sift flour, salt and spices together and gently fold into beaten mixture. Fold in brandy-soaked fruit, chopped almonds, treacle and orange zest. Spoon the mixture into prepared cake tin, spreading it evenly and smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon.
- Decorate surface with whole almonds. Bake for 3 to 3½ hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If necessary, cover loosely with foil part-way through cooking to prevent over-browning. Cool in cake tin for 1 hour, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Traditional Christmas fruit cakes are best made well in advance - at the end of october or beginning of November - so the flavours can mature.
- "Feed" the cake with brandy about once a week by making holes all over the cake with a skewer, then spooning over brandy to soak through the holes and permeate the cake with flavour.
- To store, wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper, then wrap it again in foil or place in an airtight cake tin. Don't wrap in plastic wrap or the cake will sweat and deteriorate.