The traditional English Christmas Cake improves with age and may be stored for several months. It is a rich, dark fruit cake that is served during the afternoon tea on Christmas Day. Northern Englanders cover the cake with a layer of marzipan and put a simple holly sprig on it for decoration, but the southern Englanders make the fruit cake more elaborate by frosting it with royal icing and putting tiny Christmas ornaments on it. You need to bake this cake at least 3 weeks before Christmas in order to age it.
- Step 1
REMEMBER: You need to bake this cake at least 3 weeks before Christmas in order to age it.
- Step 2
In a bowl, soak 1/2 C dried diced apricots in warm water until soft; drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
- Step 3
In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened apricot pieces, 3/4 C raisins, 3/4 C currants, 3/4 C golden raisins, 1 C fruit cake mix, 1/4 C candied lemon peel (diced), 1/4 C candied orange peel (diced), 1/4 C quartered candied red cherries, 1/4 C chopped candied red pineapple, and 1/2 C slivered almonds. Sprinkle on 1/4 C flour. Toss ingredients to coat evenly. Set aside. (This will help the ingredients to “float” in cake batter instead of all dropping to the bottom.)
- Step 4
In a mixing bowl, cream together with electric mixer, 2 sticks softened butter and 1/2 C packed light brown sugar until fluffy. Add 3 large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
- Step 5
Put 2 T. brandy in a half cup measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way with orange juice. (If you are not using brandy, use 1/2 C orange juice and 1 t. vanilla.)
- Step 6
Add 1/2 t. cloves, 1/2 t. cinnamon, and 1/2 t. nutmeg, Mix well with wooden spoon.
- Step 7
Gradually add 1 1/4 C flour, 1/4 t. baking soda, and 1/2 t. salt. Stir in fruits and nuts.
- Step 8
Spoon batter into well-greased 8 inch springform pan or an 8 X 2 inch cake pan or pyrex lined with parchment paper.
- Step 9
Bake at 325 degrees for about 70 – 90 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Peek at baking after 40 – 50 minutes and to prevent cake from over-browning or drying out, cover pan lightly (don’t crimp) with foil, just lay it on top.
- Step 10
Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan to a cooling wire rack.
- Step 11
Wrap cake in plastic wrap and foil and store it in a cool place for at least 3 weeks. ONE week before Christmas, cover with royal icing if you want. Cake improves with age and may be stored for several months. If you want to use the Marzipan covering, follow the next step:
- Step 12
MARZIPAN COVERING: Crumble 8 – 10 oz. good quality almond paste and beat with electric mixer. Add 1/2 t. almond extract, 1 large egg yolk, and 1 – 2 C powdered sugar. Mix well and knead with hands if necessary. On powdered sugar sprinkled surface, roll out half of the marzipan to 8 1/2 inch circle. Roll remaining marzipan into long strip to fit sides of cake. First, Brush cake with warm, sieved apricot jam. Place marzipan circle on top of cake and gently press into place. Wrap long strip around side of cake, pressing gently to secure. Trim. Wrap cake in foil and one week later frost with royal icing (optional).
- Step 13
Be sure and check out my many other recipe articles in Bukisa! Have fun and Happy Baking!