The preparation work for this rich Christmas Cake begins at least 10 weeks before Christmas. Don’t worry, it’s easy to make but needs to be “fed” brandy often in the lead up to Christmas. First, the boozy spiced fruit mix is left to soak in a bath of brandy for five whole weeks. Then it is baked into a rich cake and fed even more brandy every few days for weeks until it cannot take any more festive spirit. Once ready for serving, it can be paired with the airy-light whipped brandy butter, or just some vanilla ice cream or custard to ease the intense richness and fruity flavours of the cake.
Serves: 12 people Difficulty: Easy,but time consuming
· Small saucepan
· Large Airtight container
· 2 x round cake tins (13cm diameter x 8cm height; 5in x 3in)
· Baking tray
· Stand mixer / electric mixer
· Pastry brush
· Aluminum Foil (essential)
· Baking Paper (essential)
· 55g Caster Sugar
· 55ml Water
· 160ml Brandy
· 90g Sultanas
· 80g Pitted Prunes, chopped
· 80g Currants
· 80g Pitted dates, chopped
· 150g Raisins
· 135g Dried Figs, chopped
· 55g Mixed Peel (or omit the peel and add 55g of the other dried fruits)
· 100g Plain Flour
· ½ teaspoon Mixed Spice
· 15g Almond Meal
· 110g Unsalted Butter, softened
· 100g Brown Sugar
· 2 teaspoons Honey
· 2 tablespoons Golden Syrup or Treacle
· 1 teaspoon Marmalade
· 3 large Eggs, lightly beaten
· 900g of the fruit filling prepared earlier
· 150ml Brandy
· 200g Unsalted Butter, softened
· 125g Icing Sugar Mixture
· 60ml Brandy
- Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Stir on high heat until the mixture boils. Let the sugar syrup cool.
- Add the sultanas, prunes, currants, dates, raisins, figs and peel to a large airtight container. Pour the brandy and cooled syrup over the fruit. Stir well until all the dried fruit is covered. Put the lid on and leave the fruit to marinate at room temperature for 5 weeks. Stir the fruit daily for the first week, then once a week thereafter.
- Line the base and sides of two 13cm round cake tins with a double layer of baking paper. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (170 fan-forced; 375 F).
- Add the soft butter, sugar, honey, marmalade and golden syrup to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick and pale in colour.
- With the mixer on low speed slowly pour the eggs into the mixture. Allow them to incorporate well. If the mixtures looks like it’s curdling or separating just add a little of the flour to keep it together.
- Once all the egg is mixed in, add the flour, mixed spice, and almond meal. Mix on low speed until it’s all incorporated. Stir in the fruit filling.
- Split the batter evenly between the two cake tins. Firmly tap each on a bench. Place both cake tins on a baking tray.
- Set your kitchen timer for 40 minutes. Turn the oven heat down to 160 degrees Celsius (140 fan-forced; 320 F) and place the baking tray with the cake tins on it in the middle of the oven.
- After 40 minutes, turn the baking tray 180 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes at least. The cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If not, add another 5 minutes to the timer and check again. The cake might need up to 20 minutes more before they are fully done. If the tops start to get too brown, cover the cake tins with aluminium foil.
- When the cakes are cooked remove them from the oven and let them cool completely in their tins.
- Cut two sheets of aluminium foil and baking paper big enough to wrap each cake. Put one sheet of aluminium foil on the bench and place one sheet of baking paper on top. Put one cake in the middle. Make 20-30 deep holes in the top of the cake with a skewer. Brush the top with 1 teaspoon of Brandy. Wrap the cake in the paper and the foil. Repeat for the other cake.
- Place both wrapped cakes into an airtight container at room temperature. Every 3-4 days unwrap the cakes and brush another teaspoon of Brandy across the top. Keep brushing brandy on the cake every few days until Christmas.
- Add the soft butter and icing sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and pale in colour.
- Gradually pour in the Brandy, mixing well until everything is well combined. Scoop the butter into a microwaveable container. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The butter should be at room temperature when serving.
Adapted from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook
- The fruit filling will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge
- The brandy butter will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge
- The cake tins used are 13cm wide (5 inches) by 8cm deep (3 inches). I found mine 5+ years ago at a professional cake decorator store. If you use different size cake tins, the baking time will change. I’m not sure by how much. I can only advise to check if the cake is baked in 5 minute intervals from the 20 minute bake time as published.