To be honest I dislike most Christmas cakes because the peel is so bitter. I always felt bad growing up as my mum would make this beautifully decorated cake and all I liked was the royal icing and the almond. That was pretty good actually. But mum’s tinkering with the recipe saved the day and a few years ago the result was a cake I enjoyed but it was still the fruit cake. I thought it was genius. So I asked her if she minded if I gave it a go this year. She was quick to give her ok. I realised why when I was finishing it. There are a lot of steps and this is not for the faint of heart! But it is worth it in the end.
The recipe we have is older than I am, going back more than 40 years. We don’t even know what the magazine it came from is called anymore. Lost to the mists of time.
The peel and fruit need to be prepped first (this is mum’s tinkering. ) and it takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I am going to list the fruit and the total ounces you need for the fruit. Reason being everyone likes something different. My husband loves the peel so I put a lot in. If you come up with 36 oz of fruit then you are in good shape. If you go over a bit that is ok too. The fruit needed is mixed peel, currants, sultanas, raisins, glace cherries. Put this in a large bowl.
Fill the bowl with boiling water. Let soak until the fruit is reconstituted. The trick to a really good fruit cake is a moist one. If you use dried fruit it will suck the moisture out of the small amount of batter.
Drain the water then soak the fruit in apricot brandy. This lowers the bitterness of the peel. Set this aside. Chop about 4 oz of almonds. Coarsely to fine.
Once the fruit as absorbed enough brandy then drain and add the almonds. Grate the rind of one lemon and squeeze the juice. This particular lemon was amazingly lemony. Worked really well.
Set aside the juice and mix the rest well. In a separate mixing bowl beat 8 oz of butter with 8 oz of brown sugar, once creamed together add 3 large eggs. Once this is well mixed add 1 1/2 tablespoons of black treacle or molasses depending on what is available. Add in the lemon juice.
In a small bowl add 9 oz of flour, pinch of salt, 1 tsp of mixed spice (which I didn’t have), 1 tsp of ground nutmeg, and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon. Slowly mix into the batter then add 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 tablespoons of rum. I used spiced rum. Mix well.
Add in the fruit. The batter will be very stiff at this point.
The oven needs to be heated to 325 F/160 C/gas mark 3. Prep a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing it. Then take parchment paper or wax paper to line it. First line the sides having part of the paper reaching to the bottom of the pan.
Cut a round piece of paper to line the bottom on top of the tabs.
Scoop the batter into the pan. To bake evenly have the sides a bit higher than the center.
Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the temp to 300F/150 C/gas mark 2 and bake for 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. Until the toothpick comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for an hour then turn out on a cooling rack.
Once it is cooled I wrap in fresh paper and store in an airtight container. It is now ready for the soaking and the decoration part. Stay tuned.