With six children and goodness knows how many grand-children and great-grandchildren, my grand-mother has had over sixty years of experience with Christmas cakes! I asked her to show me how she makes her favourite boiled fruit cake – the one she presents to the family every Christmas.
We recently spent a morning together catching up on all the news whilst chopping cherries and measuring whiskey et al… And then we went through my Mom’s recipes together while the cake was baking in the oven (what blissful smells!) … and that’s another story!
Onto the Christmas cake ingredients:
• 1 kg cake fruit mix • 250 grams butter • 6 eggs • 750 ml cake flour • 10 ml mixed spice • 10 ml bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 60 ml milk • 250 g sliced cherries • 250 g sugar • 375 ml orange juice • 125 ml brandy or whiskey • 100 grams of pecan nuts (or whatever nuts you prefer) • Pinch of salt
Step by Step Method:
• Prepare your cake tin: Cut out greaseproof paper to fit the inside of the tin – layer about 3 to 4 pieces on top of each other. Secure with pegs. Cut tin foil to fit the inside of the tin and place it on top of the wax paper. Shift the pegs to hold the foil and paper in place. Butter the foil
• Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius
• Place the fruit mix into a large pot (1 kg of currents/raisins/saltanas/dried fruit)
• Add the butter/sugar/orange juice and bring to the boil SLOWLY – allow to simmer for 15 minutes on a low heat to allow the fruit to soften. Stir occasionally… this is the time consuming part… but who cares when every second smells WONDERFUL?!
• Wash the cherries (to get the syrup off), dry them and cut each cherry in half
• Roughly chop the nuts
• Once the fruit has softened in the pot, place the pot in a sink with cold water until the mixture is luke warm or cool (this will prevent the eggs from cooking immediately in the next step!)
• Dissolve 10 ml of bicarbonate of soda in 60 ml of milk
• Beat eggs – WHISK WELL!
• Gather the flour/mixed spice and a pinch of salt and sift into a mixing bowl
• Add eggs to the fruit mix once it has cooled
• Use a spoon to work the flour mix & other dry ingredients into the fruit mix – ADD TWO TABLESPOONS AT A TIME and mix well before adding the next lot
• Add the bicarb mixture (you’ll notice how the bicarb fizzes the mixture up!)
• Add the whiskey
• Lastly, add the cherries and nuts and mix
• Pour into the tin (it’s a wet mixture so don’t worry if it is ‘sloppy’) and remove the pegs
• NOW COVER WITH TIN FOIL and cook for about 2 ½ hours – remove the top foil covering about half an hour before the end of the cooking time. (Add another 125 ml of alcohol to the cake when it comes out of the oven if you want to keep the cake for some time).
• Allow to cool before decorating with a layer of marzipan (go to https://whippingitup.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/how-to-make-marzipan/) followed by a layer of white plastic icing (go to https://whippingitup.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/small-christmas-cake-gift-as-decorated-by-le-riche/ for a detailed description of how to layer marzipan and plastic icing on a fruit cake. Plastic icing is bought ready made).
This Christmas cake can be left for some time as long as it is well sealed. Otherwise use as soon as you wish to.
Thank you Grandmamah!!
POST SCRIPT: To see how I iced it, check out https://whippingitup.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/snowman-christmas-cake/