Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Rich fruit celebration Christmas cake

This Sunday is the last before the start of Advent and traditionally in cooking circles it is known as 'Stir up Sunday'. The name does come from the Book of Common Prayer when the collect for the day starts, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may thee be plenteously rewarded.” It is more usual for Christmas puddings to be made on Stir up Sunday but if you haven't made your Christmas fruit cake yet then now is the time to make it. Like a Christmas pudding it needs time to mature before it is eaten at Christmas.

Although rich fruit cakes have fallen out of favour in recent years I still make one each year. This is also the recipe I use when needing a cake for other special events such as weddings, anniversaries and baptisms.

Do remember that you need to soak the dried fruit overnight before they are added into the mix and baked. My baking day has often been put back a day over the years!

Equipment: 7in (18cm) loose-bottomed round tin lined, 2 large bowls, electric whisk.

Ingredients

1lb (450g) Mixed dried fruit
3oz (85g) Glacé cherries, quartered washed and dried
2tbsp (30ml) Brandy
6oz (170g) Plain flour
¼ tsp (1.25ml) Grated nutmeg
½ tsp (2.5ml) Mixed spice
6oz (170g) Unsalted butter, softened or baking spread
6oz (170g) Dark soft brown sugar
3 Eggs
1½ oz (40g) Chopped almonds
1½ tsp (7.5ml) Black treacle
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

Brandy or whisky for feeding

Method

1. Put the mixed fruit and glacé cherries in a large bowl and pour over the brandy. Mix well and cover. Leave overnight for the fruit to plump up.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/Gas mark 1. Prepare the baking tin by greasing and lining inside and also double lining on the outside by tying with string.
3. Put the remaining cake ingredients in the other bowl and beat well. Stir in the mixed fruit.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Smooth the top and then make a dent in the middle to stop it rising up too much during baking.
5. Cook for 45 minutes and then cover the top with a piece of baking parchment. Cook for another 3 hours until a skewer comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool in the tin. Pierce the cake all over and then feed with either brandy or whisky. Double wrap and leave in a dark, cool place. Feed every one to two weeks until you are ready to marzipan and ice it. Do not feed it if it seems too moist. If fed regularly and stored properly the cake will keep up to three months.
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