Monday, 16 November 2015

Christmas Cake of 2015 (so it begins...)

And so, the time of year rolls around to prepare the Christmas cake. Wait, what? That was October? Oops, I was a little busy. Yes, unfortunately my Christmas cake and pudding creation was delayed this year somewhat. My 30 hour a week job is taking up 42 hours a week these days, and I have very sadly been struggling significantly with depression. I did it: I said the 'D' word.

Over the course of the last 10 years, I've struggled on and off which depression, usually triggered by a sudden life change. Those have been abound recently, which has resulting in my spending most of the time that I'm not at work in bed. I haven't been baking unless utterly necessary, which means my kitchen has been getting kind of neglected. I cannot wait to be better, but it's not looking like that's going to be any time soon.

But anyway! Enough of the super dismal talk of mental illness. Back to baking!

So I made the Christmas cake this week, and this time I did things a little differently. I definitely have taken after my Grandma in this department: Mum says Grandma used to try a different recipe for Christmas cake every year, but never wrote them down, so she'd never be able to remember what she'd done.

I decided to go a little less alcoholic than usual: typically, I soak the fruit in basically a whole bottle of sherry. However, this time I soaked it in hot Chai tea that was spiked with a little spiced rum instead (Lidl's knock-off Captain Morgan is a Godsend), inspired by Delia Smith's recipe for Creole fruit cake.

This recipe also takes a little inspiration from the recipe for Christmas cake on the Odlums official website, that used a melted method instead of a creamed method.

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat

☒ Dairy (use ingredients in italics for a dairy-free version)
☒ Nuts (use ingredients in italics for a nut-free version)
☒ Eggs

Makes one 8 inch (20 centimetre) round cake

For the fruit, the night before:
  • 12 ounces (340 grammes) mixed dried fruit of your choice: currants, raisins, sultanas, candied peel, glacé cherries (rinsed thoroughly and chopped), prunes (chopped, etc.
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) ground almonds
  • 8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) hot tea: Chai or Assam work best
  • One shot (42 millilitres) spiced rum or whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) brown sugar
For the cake mixture:
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) plain white spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) mixed spice (or, if you want to be adventurous and make your own: 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, half a teaspoon of ground ginger, a quarter teaspoon of ground coriander, and two pinches of ground cloves)
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) light brown sugar
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) butter or margarine, cut into pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • Grated zest of half a lemon
  • Grated zest and juice of half an orange

  • In a large glass mixing bowl, put the dired fruit, ground almonds, brown sugar, hot tea, and whiskey. Cover with a tea towel and allow to soak overnight.
  • The next day, prepare your cake tin. Grease and flour the inside, and then line the bottom and sides with baking paper. Preheat the oven to Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F, Gas Mk.2, or moderately cool) and set the rack in the centre of the oven with plenty of room to spare from the rack 
  • In a saucepan, heat the remaining sugar, butter, lemon zest, and orange juice and zest. Melt over a medium-low heat until all the sugar and butter have melted together. Bring to the boil and cook for about 1 minute.
  • Pour the melted mixture onto the soaked fruit and mix well. Allow to cool to a touchable heat.
  • Once cool, beat in the eggs, one at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of flour. 
  • Sieve in the remaining flour with the spices, and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and cook for at least 1½ hours before testing with a wooden cocktail stick. If there is still mixture stuck to the stick, cook for another 15 minutes. In total, the cake could take up 2 to 2½ hours to cook.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack. Don't turn out of the tin until it is fully cool.

To store, wrap in greaseproof paper and either foil or clingfilm until decorating. I recommend covering with marzipan and icing about 3 days before Christmas.

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