Christmas Cake

Without a doubt, Delia Smith has the very best Christmas Cake recipe I have ever seen or tasted. This is a slightly adapted version of her recipe, most notably in having the nut topping and apricot glaze, as we don’t tend to use Royal icing and marzipan on our Christmas cakes here in Canada. Quantities have been converted to our measuring system and I have used pumpkin pie spice as a substitute for mixed spice (not to be confused with allspice). I also found that it was better to use 6 tablespoons of brandy to steep the fruit, rather than the 3 tablespoons in Delia’s recipe.

It is a beautiful moist cake with a heavenly aroma and rich flavours. Try to make it at least a month ahead of Christmas, so you can ‘feed’ it with brandy, but if you only have a couple of weeks lead-time, don’t worry, it will still taste wonderful on the day!

  • Christmas Cake Recipe
  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups (450 gm – 1lb) currants
  • 1¼ cups (175 gm – 6oz) sultanas
  • 1¼ cups (175 gm – 6oz) raisins
  • 1/2 cup (75 gm – 2½oz) glacé cherries, halved
  • 1/2 cup (50 gm – 2 oz) cut mixed peel
  • 6 tbsp (90 ml) brandy
  • 2 cups (8 oz – 225 gm) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1-2 ml) nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) pumpkin pie spice (recipe)
  • 1 cup (225 gm – 8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups packed, brown sugar (225 gm – 8 oz)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten to mix
  • 1/4 cup (50 gm – 2oz) chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) molasses
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • grated zest of one orange
  • whole blanched almonds, pecans and walnut halves to decorate
  • best quality apricot jam for glazing
  • additional brandy for ‘feeding’

METHOD:

Measure out dried fruits, peel and cherries into a large glass bowl and mix with the brandy.

(1) Cover and allow to soak overnight at room temperature.

Line an 8¼” (21 cm) spring-form pan with parchment paper.

(2)Preheat the oven to 275°F (140°C)

Sift the flour, salt and spices together in a large bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (4) (5)

Gradually add the eggs, beating between each addition to avoid curdling the mixture. (If it curdles add a dash of the flour mixture before continuing) (6)

Stir in the flour mixture gradually and mix carefully to avoid losing any air in the mixture. (7)

Mix in the dried fruit, molasses, chopped almonds and citrus zests.

(8) Spoon the cake mixture into the lined spring-form pan and level the surface.

Carefully decorate the top by placing the nuts into the surface of the batter, as shown in the picture. (9)

Tie a single wrap of thick brown paper around the outside of the pan to provide protection from heat.

Top the cake with a sheet of parchment paper that has a hole in the middle the size of a dollar coin. (10)

Bake on a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven for 4½ – 4¾ hours

until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. (Delia says it can sometimes take an extra half an hour or more, but not to open the oven until at least four hours baking time has elapsed)

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Heat the apricot jam over gentle heat and brush lightly over the nut topping of the cake to finish.

To ‘feed’ the cake (weekly), use a tooth pick to make small holes in the surface of the cake (top and bottom) and carefully spoon brandy so that it soaks in. Do not overfeed, as it will make the cake go fudgy.