I love Christmas! I love the music, I love the decorations, I love the baking opportunities. I’m not so crazy about the present business, but I do love getting together with the family and sharing good times!
By New Zealand’s standards, some might consider that I go a little bit over the top when it comes to Christmas, but I make no apologies….it’s just my thing! And really you’d probably have to say that too if you also had a tree that you put nearly 500 lights on and decorated every inch of the house with tinsel.
When it comes to the baking opportunities, I go crazy! The first thing that I make in preparation for Christmas is the cake. I have done a bit of research, and worked out a few things that will help to make it a success:
- Buy a large air tight container to store your cake in before you bake it 🙂 You want a container that allows about 1 inch of space on the sides.
- Bake your cake in the morning. It will take several hours to cool and you must leave it in the tin until cool, before wrapping and storing away.
- Most recipes say to soak the fruit over night. This isn’t long enough. It must be a minimum of 1 week.
- Drop your cake tin from about 1 foot above the kitchen floor just before you put it into the oven. This helps to settle the mixture into the tin.
- If you are using a metal cake tin, fold numerous layers of newspaper or brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string (make sure it isn’t plastic string). This will help to prevent the sides from burning.
- If you are baking a square cake, rotate about half way through baking to prevent the corners from burning.
- Christmas cakes are pretty forgiving. If you’re like me and don’t like Glace cherries, just leave them out. Alternatively, feel free to add different types of fruit.
One of the best investments I made for my Christmas cake was buying a Wooden Cake Box. Check them out here. This way you don’t have to worry about step 3 above. Each size box comes with a fruit cake recipe that is perfect for that size of box. I haven’t tried this specific recipe, but no doubt it is delicious! Make sure to read the Baking Tips on the website about how to line the box.
Rich Fruit Christmas Cake
2 C sultanas
2 C chopped dates
150gm crystallized ginger, chopped
150gm mixed peel
150gm glace cherries, halved
2 T grated orange rind
½ C dark rum
½ C orange juice
¼ t almond essence
½ t vanilla essence
2 t grated lemon rind
1 C blanched almonds
2 ½ C plain flour
½ t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
½ ground nutmeg
1 t mixed spice
1 ½ brown sugar
2 T treacle
- Put all the fruit in a saucepan. Add orange rind, rum and orange juice. Cover.
- Bring to the boil, reduce heat and gently cook for 15 minutes to plump the fruit.
- Remove from the heat. Transfer to an airtight container when cooled.
- Store in a dark cool place.
- Sift flour, soda and spices into a bowl.
- Cream butter, sugar and treacle until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Fold in sifted ingredients, alternating with fruit mixture.
- Spoon mixture in a greased and lined 23cm square tin (or 25 cm round tin).
- Hold tin about 1 foot above the kitchen floor, and drop.
- Bake at 150oC for 4 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean when tested. Leave in tin until cold.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in an airtight container. Store in a cool place.
Weekly until 1 week before Christmas
Puncture a dozen or so holes evenly around the cake (e.g. with a chop stick).
- Pour 1-2 T brandy into the holes.
One Week before Christmas
Apply marzipan, as per packet’s instructions. Leave to dry. 1-2 days before Christmas Apply royal icing, as per packet’s instructions. Decorate.