This is the perfect Christmas cake to get the festive season off to a great start.
The history behind the cake
The traditional Christmas cake is a merger of two dishes eaten around the Christmas period. Plum porridge or pottage and the Twelfth Night cake.
During the 16th Century the oatmeal in the porridge was replaced by butter, flour and eggs. This mix would still have been boiled. It was not until richer families had ovens in the home, that the mix was baked. Dried fruit was added and finished off with marzipan. Traditionally it would have been eaten at Easter. The Christmas cake evolved when dried fruit of the season and spices were added at then eaten at Christmas. The cake was originally eaten not at Christmas but on the Twelfth Night, the Epiphany. Thus the Twelfth Night cake.
Ingredients of our traditionally diverse Christmas cake
1lb (450g) Currants
6oz (175g) Sultanas and Rasins
2oz (50g ) Glace Cherries and Mixed peel rinsed and chopped
8oz (225g) Plain flour, Muscovite sugar and Butter
2oz (50g) Ground almonds
4 Large eggs
3 Tablespoons brandy, rum and ruby wine
1 Dessert-spoon black treacle and browning
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg, mixed spice and Vanilla essence
Grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange
Pre-heat oven gas mark 1 (275 F) (140 C)
Use an 8″ cake tin, greased and lined with greaseproof paper. Tie a double layer of greaseproof paper around the tin.
Place all dried fruit in a bowl together with brandy, rum and ruby wine
and leave to soak for 2 to 3 weeks.
Sieve flour, almonds and spices in a large mixing bowl. Cream sugar and butter together in a separate bowl until mixture’s light and fluffy. Stir in all fruit that you have soaked and add treacle and browning. Beat in eggs together with vanilla essence, lemon and orange rind. Add a tablespoon at a time to the mixture and mix thoroughly after each addition. If mixture curdles then add a little flour. When you have added all the eggs fold in flour and spices.
Spoon mixture into cake tin and spread evenly using the back of a spoon.
Bake on the lower shelve of the oven for 3 to 4 hours. Do not open the oven door for at least 3 hours. Remove from oven and test with a skewer to ensure the cake is ready. Leave it to cool completely then make holes in the cake using the the skewer and add rum and brandy. Wrap in double greaseproof paper and feed with brandy and rum once a week.
TNT Food/ Drink Beverley Ogle-Young