Step by Step: Christmas Cake

1 large 23cm cake (4.5 hours cooking time)  3 small cakes (1,5 hours cooking time) - quantities of ingredients vary; see following list of ingredients

  • 100g raisins
  • 250g glacé cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 360g currants
  • 240g sultanas
  • 100ml brandy, plus extra for feeding
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 180g butter, well creamed
  • 180g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 2 tsp treacle sugar
  • 60g blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 60g pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • juice of 1 orange

1. Grease and line a round 23cm tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper.

2. Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan oven at 120°C).

3. Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the brandy and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily.

4. Cream the butter and sugar, and add eggs.

5. Add treacle and nuts and beat well.

6. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended.

7. Stir in the soaked fruit and orange juice.

8. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

9. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours (1-1½ hours for the small cakes) or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown.

10. Check after 2 hours (45 min for the small cakes), and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil and place back in the oven. After the 4-4½ hours (1-1½ hours for the small cakes) a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Brush the surface of the cake with brandy, cover the cak

11. When cool, wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more brandy. (Don’t remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist).

Ingredients for 3 Small Cakes

  • 75g raisins
  • 180g glacé cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 270g currants
  • 180g sultanas
  • 75ml brandy, plus extra for feeding
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 135g butter, well creamed
  • 135g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp treacle sugar
  • 45g blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 45g pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 45g self-raising flour
  • 90g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp mixed spice
  • juice of 1 orange

Fondant and Marzipan Icing

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 100ml apricot jam, warmed
  • 1kg marzipan
  • 2kg white fondant icing

1. Dust icing sugar over clean work surface.

2. Roll out marzipan into a 5mm thick sheet.

3. Cut out a large circle (30cm diameter) for each cake.

4. Brush warmed apricot jam around each cake and gently place the marzipan over the cake, using the palms to brush down the sides and keep marzipan smooth. Trim the excess marzipan with a sharp knife around the bottom of the cake.

5. Allow the marzipan to dry for 1 day.

6. Roll out the fondant icing to a 5mm thick sheet.

7. Cut large circles (30cm diameter) for each cake.

8. Brush warmed apricot jam over the marzipan and gently place the fondant icing over each cake. Again, use palms to brush the tops and sides of the cake smooth. Leave to dry.

9. Roll out the extra fondant icing (3mm sheet). Using cutters of your choice; cut out decorations, and leave to dry. Alternatively, buy the decorations from baking stores.