Let’s Get Started With Our Christmas Cake

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

It’s time to get started on my Christmas cake – no not making the cake but soaking the fruit which should sit for at least a month before the cake is made. Yep that’s it – a whole month for the flavors to really blend, and then the cake itself must sit for a couple of weeks before we eat it.

This is a process I enjoy every year, an important part of the rhythm of my life, probably partly because it can’t be hurried if I want to create a really good cake. It makes me feel as though Christmas is on its way and the entertaining I so enjoy doing at this season will really happen.

When I mentioned this on Facebook a couple of days ago several people asked for the recipe. Here is what I do. It is adapted from a recipe in the Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook which I have had for about 40 years. I I have over the years adapted the fruit to suit what is easily available here in Seattle. I have also swapped the very expensive Grand Marnier for a much cheaper orange liqueur – don’t ue the really cheap stuff though – it just doesn’t seem nearly as good.

English Fruit cake

INGREDIENTS:

– FRUIT MIX
– 6 1/2 cups sultanas
– 2 1/4 cups raisins
– 2 1/2 cups dried cranberries
– 2 1/4 cups currants
– 1 1/2 cups dates, chopped
– 1 1/2 cups prunes, chopped
– 1/2 cups dried apricots, turkish style, chopped
– 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
– 1/2 cup mixed peel
– 3 apples , peeled and grated
– 1 cup orange marmalade
– 1/2 cup orange juice
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 1/2 cups orange liqueur
– CHRISTMAS CAKE
– 1 cup butter, melted
– 5 eggs, lightly beaten
– 2 1/2 cups flourMETHOD:

1. FRUIT MIX
Combine all fruit mix ingredients in a large bowl, mix until all are thoroughly combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap to exclude air. Place in a cool dark cupboard for at least a month before use.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
Place half the fruit mixture into a large bowl. Use your hands to mix in half the butter, eggs and sifted flour, then remaining butter, eggs and flour. Mix thoroughly to break up lumps of fruit.

Spread evenly into a deep 23cm round cake pan which has been lined with e layers of brown paper and 3-4 layers of parchment paper. This helps protect the cake while it is cooking.

Decorate with blanched almonds if desired.

Bake in a slow oven (150C / 300F) for 3 1/2 – 4 hours.

Use second half of fruit mixture for a second cake, plum pudding or fruit mince tarts.

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