Louise Lennox's Christmas Cake 2009

Double check that you have everything you need before you start making the cake!

Ingredients


  • double check that you have everything you need before you start making the cake!
  • 10 oz butter (at room temperature)
  • 10 oz muscovado sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 tblsp maple syrup or golden syrup
  • 10 oz plain flour
  • 4 oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.50 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.50 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 oz crystallised lemon and orange peel or mixed peel
  • 4 oz maraschino or marcello cherries (dried, chopped and tossed in a tablespoon of flour)
  • 4 oz dried blueberries
  • 4 oz tinned strawberries
  • 4 oz greek currants
  • 10 oz golden sultanas
  • 10 oz jumbo raisins
  • 4 oz macadamia nuts (roughly chopped)
  • 12 tblsp irish whiskey, dark rum, sherry or brandy
  • for lining the tin:
  • 9" square tin or 10” round tin
  • baking parchment
  • brown paper
  • string

Method

  1. The Day Before You Plan on Making the Cake:
  2. Place all the dried fruit (except the cherries) peel into a bowl, add the whiskey, and stir to mix well.
  3. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to soak for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. To Line a Square Tin:
  5. Put the tin in the centre of the baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
  6. Measure the length and width and double the depth - the paper should extend 1-2" higher than the tin.
  7. Make four lines from the paper's edge up to the corner, and cut along the lines.
  8. Grease the tin and place the paper inside, folding and overlapping the corners to fit.
  9. Using the tin as a guide, and using a pencil, mark out the size of the base.
  10. Cut out two double bases and place inside the tin and grease each one as you put it in.
  11. To Line a Round Tin:
  12. Cut a strip of baking parchment or greaseproof paper longer and higher than the outside of the tin.
  13. Fold it in half and fold back about an inch along its length.
  14. Using a pair of scissors, snip the paper up to the fold every ½".
  15. Grease the tin and press the paper onto the sides. Using the tin as a guide, and using a pencil, mark out the size of the base.
  16. Cut out two double bases and place inside the tin and grease each one as you put it in.
  17. To Prepare the Cake:
  18. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and spices into a large bowl.
  19. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  20. Break the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat with a fork.
  21. Add a tablespoon of the beaten eggs at a time to the creamed sugar and butter.
  22. Beat well after each addition. If the mixture looks as if it might be starting to curdle, add in a little of the measured flour and spice mix.
  23. When all the eggs have been added, fold in the flour and spices using a metal spoon.
  24. Add the maple syrup to the soaked fruits and stir well.
  25. Very gently stir the soaked fruits, the cherries, strawberries, crystallised lemon and orange peel and the nuts.
  26. Using a metal spoon carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
  27. Use the back of a wet spoon to even off the mixture and make a slight indentation in the centre to ensure that the surface is even when cooked.
  28. Cover the outside of the tin with a double band of brown paper and tie with string. Once the cake mixture is in the tin, the top can be covered with a clean tea towel and it can be left until the next day before cooking.
  29. Put a double layer of baking parchment on top of the cake and put into the preheated oven.
  30. Oven Temperatures and Approximate Cooking Times
  31. Electric Oven:
  32. Bake at 170°C for 1.5 hours then reduce the heat to 150°C for remaining 2 hours.
  33. Gas Oven:
  34. Bake at gas mark 3 for 1.5 hours then reduce the heat to gas mark 2 for remaining 2 hours.
  35. Fan Oven:
  36. This is a guideline only as it is best to refer to the manufacturer's instructions. Some manufacturers suggest that Christmas Cakes should be placed in a cold oven, while other manufacturers say that the oven should be preheated.
  37. So these are the suggested temperatures: Bake at 150°C for 1.5 hours then reduce the heat to 130°C for the remaining 2 hours. Again check the cooking instructions that you got with your oven.
  38. Important Note:
  39. As all oven temperatures vary, it is important to check that the cake is cooked after the cooking time is up. This is done by the following:
  40. See if the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin.
  41. Press firmly on top of the cake and if no indentations are left remove it from the oven.
  42. Gently put a thin metal skewer into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  43. Next Step:
  44. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  45. Once the cake is cold, leave the lining paper on and cover the cake with extra baking parchment or greaseproof paper and then wrap tinfoil over it. Never wrap fruit cakes directly in tinfoil as the foil interacts with the fruit.
  46. Every week, until the cake is iced, 'feed' it by taking a skewer and making holes over its surface and pour about a tablespoon of whatever alcohol that was used in baking the cake. This helps to keep it moist and adds to the flavour.

Notes:

Louise's tips: Always buy good quality dried fruit. Don’t use dried fruit that you find at the back of a cupboard. It will have dried up more since the last time that it was used. Never use self-raising flour when baking fruit cakes as it will cause your cake to crack. Always use the size tin given in the recipe. Don't use flour that is at the back of your cupboard, it will probably be damp, so buy fresh. All ingredients must be at room temperature and butter must be slightly soft. If the butter is not soft it won't cream into the sugar satisfactorily. Eggs will curdle if they are taken straight from the fridge and used immediately to add to the creamed butter and flour. If you don't want to add alcohol to your cake, you can use fruit juice. I find a mixture of orange and apple the best. Take time to line the tins and when the mixture is in the tin, put brown paper around it. As fruit cakes take a long time to cook, it is very important that the edges and the bottom don’t cook before the centre of the cake. If this happens, the outside of the cake will be hard and tasteless. Don't open the oven door until the cake is cooked! Opening the door allows cold air into the oven and your cake will sink!





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