This Christmas Cake is a modern one and it can be easily adapted to your favourite classic flavour combinations. It incorporates a little chocolate to give it a deep rich flavour and to the dried fruit a spiced liqueur is added; in the example given below making a classic combination of chocolate and winter-spiced orange. These flavours give this Christmas Cake its foundations, but they do not detract from the rich ‘heaviness’ of this traditional style of fruit cake
And although there appears to be a cornucopia of ingredients, each one is essential, just like all the instruments in an orchestra. This Christmas Cake is best eaten matured, (4 weeks or so – with patience being rewarded) as certain flavours intensify, while other mellow; but at a pinch it can also be made up at the last minute, being thoroughly moist and tasty to begin with.
How To Alter The Cake: the cake recipe given below has a chocolate and orange flavour predominating, but perhaps you would prefer different flavours, this is easy to achieve, here are just 2 examples:-
1. And Brandy Christmas Cake: Make exactly as below but replace the mixed candied peel with chopped glace cherries and replace the orange liqueur with a mix of half cherry liqueur and half brandy.
2. Coffee And Walnut Christmas Cake: Make exactly as below but replace the chopped hazelnuts with chopped walnuts and replace the orange liqueur with a coffee liqueur and replace the chocolate cocoa powder (retain the chocolate pieces) with half a cup of strong coffee.
Modern Christmas Cake Recipe
There is no need to give this cake the traditional decorations of full layers of marzipan and royal icing, just some edible cake decorations or icing shapes such as stars and glitter etc. Minimum cake tin size is 23cm x 12 cm height.
- 200g raisins
- 200g dried medjool dates, chopped small
- 200g currants
- 200g sultanas
- 200g mixed candied peel, chopped small
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g dark muscovado sugar
- 100g white castor sugar
- 2 tbsp honey (runny)
- 2 tbsp black treacle (molasses)
- 2 tbsp golden syrup (corn syrup)
- 300ml orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau or Triple Sec)
- 2 oranges, juice and zest only
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 100g Dark Chocolate (min 70% chopped small)
- 2 tbsp very good quality cocoa (chocolate) powder
- 4 free-range eggs, beaten
- 300g plain flour
- 100ml milk
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g chopped hazelnuts
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- packet of edible silver or gold star shapes (cake decorations)
- edible silver or gold glitter (cake decorations)
Place the butter, sugar, honey, treacle, and syrup into a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan and put it on to a gentle simmer. Heat the mixture until it reaches just under the boil, stirring the mixture continuously as the butter melts and the sugar etc dissolves.
Then add all the fruit ingredients, orange liqueur, orange juice and zest, spices, cinnamon, and cocoa powder and chocolate pieces. Stir and melt the chocolate into the mixture. Let the mixture simmer gently for five to ten minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to stand for two hours covered. This can also be left overnight. If left overnight loosen the mixture by gently re-heating in the pan and adding in the milk.
Grease and line the sides and bottom of a deep, round loose-bottomed cake tin (minimum 23cm x 12cm) with baking parchment or grease-proof paper – when lining the sides of the tin cut the baking parchment into strips that are twice as high as the tin itself. Use some vegetable oil to help stick the parchment to the sides of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 160C
After two hours add the beaten eggs into the cake mixture in the saucepan, a little at a time, stirring them in, then add the sifted flour, stir in. Then add the ground almonds, chopped hazelnuts, baking powder and bicarbonate soda, and mix well with a wooden spoon until the ingredients have combined fully. Add a little milk if the cake mixture is a little dry.
Carefully pour the fruitcake mixture into the lined cake tin – use a wooden spoon to tamp down the cake batter so that there are no air pockets and the tin is filled evenly with a smooth, flat top.
Bake for 3 hours, at a low temperature of 160C, or until the top of the cake is firm, with a shiny and sticky look, and if you insert a skewer into the middle of the cake, the cake should still be soft in the middle.
Once baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes. After ten minutes fold down the grease-proof paper and wrap some foil over the top of the tin, sealing the cake. As the cake continues to cool any moisture evaporating will be trapped by the paper and foil and be returned back into the top of the cake, keeping it moist.
When the cake is completely cold remove it from its tin, drizzle over some orange liqueur, re-wrap it in new grease-proof paper or baking parchment and wrap completely in foil. Store in an air tight tin for three to four weeks, once a week, every week, open the tin, unwrap the top and drizzle over a little more orange liqueur to ‘feed’ the cake.
Take the cake out of the air tight tin and unwrap it. To decorate, place the cake on a cake stand, or large clean plate, add edible silver or gold star shaped cake decorations over the top and sprinkle over the edible silver or gold glitter. Or take it a step further and decorate with royal icing and marzipan, or just a simple chocolate butter fondant icing …
Decorating The Cake:
All similar sized cakes made this way, with these ingredients, and stored to mature, will sink in the middle a little. Most people just fill in the dip with chocolate covered sweets etc. and decorate around them. Here I am filling in the dip with some traditional marzipan, (although I might be tempted to fill in the dip with some chocolate butter fondant instead) then I flattened the top off with a thin layer of marzipan. I used some warm apricot jam brushed on to help stick the layers to the cake. Make sure you scatter plenty of icing sugar (powdered sugar) on the work surface when rolling out the sheets of marzipan and royal icing. On to this I am placing a royal icing sheet, rolled thin and cut with curvy and wavy lines so that it resembles the drips of a cartoon iced Christmas Pudding – you can trim it with some scissors later on as well to get the shape. I then added some gold Christmas Cake decorations.