Thursday, 17 November 2011

Christmas Countdown: “I Can’t Believe You Made That!” Christmas Cake

I love Christmas; wrapping up gifts, decorating the tree, gingerbread lattes and warming mince pies.  With only 5 weeks to go now is the perfect time to start your baking for the big day and as it’s the Bakehouse’s first Christmas I can’t wait to share all my festive recipes and tips to help you create some delicious, yuletide treats.

My first bake for Christmas is always my centrepiece spectacular; the “I Can’t Believe You Made That” Christmas Cake.  The reason for the funny name is that it always looks so professional and tastes so delicious that all my family and friends exclaim, “I can’t believe you made that!” when I cut them a slice.  What’s also fabulous about this cake it that it’s so easy too, you’ll look like a baking goddess without any of the fuss!

Now is the time to make the cake, I know it seems too early, but this fruit cake tastes sublime when it’s baked in advance and topped up with a little brandy or orange juice once or twice a week.  By the time you’re ready to eat it you’ll have a succulent, moist, fruity, sweet cake that everyone will enjoy!  This post will give you the recipe for the cake and in the next few weeks I’ll also show you how to cover it with a traditional marzipan and icing and then the best bit…my decorating tips to ensure all your friends will also be screaming with delight, “I Can’t Believe You Made That!”.

"I Can't Believe You Made That" Christmas Cake


175g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
750g mixed dried fruits
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100ml orange juice or brandy
3 large eggs, beaten
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp ground mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon

In a large saucepan add the butter, sugar, dried fruit, zests, juice from the orange and the orange juice or brandy.  Slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2 and line a deep, round cake tin with baking paper, grease lightly.  Stir the eggs and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon. Sift over the flour, baking powder and spices and stir in gently until there are no traces of flour left.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1 and cook for a further 1 hour and 30-40 minutes until the cake is dark golden and firm to the touch; the cake is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Use a skewer to make holes all over the warm cake and spoon 4tbsp of orange juice or brandy over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin and when completely cold remove from the tin and peel off the baking paper.  Wrap the cake in new baking paper and then wrap tightly in tin foil or clingfilm.  Now the cake will need to be "topped-up" with 4tbsp of orange juice or brandy once or twice a week until I show you how to cover your cake.

Belle's Top Tip
Follow me on Twitter for reminders of when to "top-up" your cake so you don't forget!  You'll also get a heads-up when the next part of this recipe is posted!