To the tune Shakermaker by Oasis
Hooray- it is time for my favourite half term activity!
Bake along with me if you wish! My recipe is based on the Rachel Allen Bake recipe, but I have changed it a bit.
First up, soak the dried fruits overnight/ as long as you want! This year I used 225g raisins, 225g mixed dried fruit, 100g cranberries, 50g dates, 25g crystalised ginger, 100g cherries, 50g figs. I chopped up the larger fruits so they were all roughly the same size, then covered in 125ml brandy/ whisky/ something like that.
The fruit will plump up the longer you leave it. I changed up the dried fruit from the recipe- it included dried apricots, sultanas, mixed peel (I find it easier to add mixed dried fruit)- this year I added figs as well as cranberries and cherries to the mix. You could use currants etc too.
Preheat the oven to 150C, and line the tin/ tins you will use. This mixture does make one big cake, but as I give them away I prefer to make 2 smaller ones with it.
Then in a big bowl (it does need to be a big bowl!) cream the butter (275g at room temp- I left it out while I went on a run + had a shower + lunch).
Then add in 275g soft brown sugar and mix again. I tried it with my mixer but I prefer it by hand, so got out my wooden spoon for the rest of it!
Add 5 eggs, one at a time, and mix each one in well.
Then add 2 tsb molasses (I added this to give it a richer more treacley flavour) and mix in again.
Then add some grated orange zest and 50g ground almond.
Then sift on 275g plain flour and whatever spices you like. I added 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/t tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger and a little grated nutmeg. Be careful not to drop your nutmeg into the bowl. Ahem.
Then add the dried fruit and any liquid left in the bowl. Mix some more!
Yum! You will have a dark coloured smooth mixture filled with bright jewels of dried fruit. Give it a special stir and make a wish! 🙂
Spoon into the pans. I had a lot of batter, so I made some in mini loaf cases too (this also may stop Andy from buying them from Aldi!).
The little ones took 40 mins before a skewer came out clean- for the last 10 mins I cover them in silver foil.
After an hour I took the big ones out and covered them in foil.
I used baking beans to hold the foil down- last year I had trouble with the warm air pushing the foil off.
In total these took about 2 1/2 hours, but a larger tin will take longer, up to 3 1/4 hours. Just check every now and then. And enjoy the lovely smell.
Keep them covered in foil until they cool (this helps to stop them drying out). Then store in an airtight container until you want to ice them.
I get to do it all again tomorrow with the other lot of dried fruit too!
I might practise my sugarcraft on these cuties this week 🙂
Join me later in the year when I cover them in marzipan, icing, decorations or almond paste. (That should be read out in a sort of voice over voice- you know, like on the TV).
I love love love making Christmas cakes. When I was little we always made hampers for our grandparents-things like home-made jam and marmalade, and of course a home-made Christmas cake (which my Mum let us decorate with coloured icing!). So doing it at this time of year makes me feel quite nostalgic. As I make a few of them for gifts it also gives me time to think of the people I am making it for (and the people I used to make them for who are no longer with us).
Do you love making Christmas cakes? Anything you do which makes you feel nostalgic?