Matt's Christmas Cake
26 November 2020 at 14:45
Matt’s Traditional Christmas Cake
Its that time already!
Christmas Cake is, for me, the cornerstone of Christmas treats. Seeing the Cake decorated in my mother’s kitchen was always the sign that Christmas Day was round the corner and I still get that feeling of impending excitement when I smell it today.
You can make this cake at the beginning of December. I like to feed my Christmas Cake with a mix of Armagnac and Madeira for extra indulgence; you could alternatively use brandy or sherry according to what you like. Making it in advance and feeding it will make it extra fudgy and luxurious.
Replace the plain flour with Gluten free flour if you wish, it works just fine.
I like to use marzipan and fondant icing to finish my Cake, but Royal icing is also great. Don’t forget to slather the cake in apricot jam to glue on whatever it is you decide to use.
As with all recipes, try and use free range, farm assured eggs and good quality butter for the best results – the difference might be £1 or so over the recipe, but you will be pleased you spent it.
Makes 1 x 23cm cake
75g glace cherries, chopped
75g prunes, chopped
75g dried figs, chopped
1 tbsp treacle
120g unsalted butter, diced
200g Armagnac (or brandy)
200g Madeira (or sherry)
200g Muscovado sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour (or GF if desired)
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
1 whole nutmeg, grated (you can use ground nutmeg, but it’s well worth using freshly grated)
50g mixed peel
50g stem ginger, finely chopped (add a little of the syrup if you like)
100g peeled, blanched almonds, roughly chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat your oven to 165c. Line your 23cm cake tin with tin foil, then parchment paper. Grease with butter.
In a pan big enough to hold all the ingredients, add the dried fruits, treacle, butter, Armagnac, Madeira, sugar and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and seal (either a lid or clingfilm). Allow to marinade for 2 hours.
Unseal the pan and beat in all the remaining ingredients until the butter, flour and eggs are well incorporated.
Tip the cake mixture into your cake tin and smooth down. Place the cake in your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the surface of the cake is coloured. Remove the cake from the oven, and seal with tin foil. Return the cake to the oven and turn down to 150c. Cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours, or until the cake is a rich treacle colour.
Remove the cake from the oven and remove the tin foil lid. If you wish, poke a few holes in the cake with a skewer and brush with a little more alcohol. When completely cool, keep in an airtight container until you are ready to decorate.