Heather’s Christmas cake
It is that time of year again when we really should be thinking of making a Christmas cake. There are three things that I believe should not be put off till the last minute before Christmas: writing the cards, creating crackers and making the cake. You may already have bought a few presents or be like me and wait till the last week. However, the cake has to be made well in advance as you need to treat it to a regular alcoholic drink if you want a proper Christmas cake. Why not try out Heather’s recipe this year and let us know your verdict?
As always, do please listen to the programme for more detailed instructions, suggestions and great tips.
1.1 kg or 2 and a quarter lbs mixed dried fruit
185 gr or 6oz quartered glace cherries
90gr or 3oz flaked almonds
finely grated peel and juice of 1 orange
125ml or 4 floz brandy, sherry or rum etc. ( no alcohol? listen to prog.)
375gr or 12 oz plain flour
3 tsp ground mixed spice
75gr or 2and a half oz ground almonds
280gr or 9oz dark soft brown sugar
280gr or 9oz softened butter
6tsp black treacle or molasses
Preheat oven to 140C, 275F or gas mark 1
Line a 20cm or 8 inch square or a 22.5cm or 9 inch round cake tin with double thickness greaseproof paper. Heather explains in the programme how to do this so please listen if you haven’t done this before.
Stand the tin on a double thickness lined baking sheet.
Place the dried fruit, cherries and almonds in a large bowl, stir until well mixed. Add orange peel and juice. Add 125 ml of liquid i.e. brandy, rum or whatever you prefer. Mix well together. In another bowl you put the flour, spice, ground almonds, sugar, butter, treacle and eggs, stir with a wooden spoon and beat until smooth and glossy. Add the fruit mixture to the cake mixture, stir until evenly mixed. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top with the back of a metal spoon and make quite a large depression in the centre to about halfway down the height of the mixture.
Put the cake into the oven, it will take 3 and a quarter to 3 and a half hours to cook or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. In a fan assisted oven it may take only 2 and a half to 2 and three quarter hours.
Once cooked, leave the cake in the tin to cool, then turn it out and remove the paper and place the cake on a cooling rack.
Wrap the cake in a large piece of greaseproof paper followed by tinfoil and pop it into an airtight tin or a plastic box. Leave for 1 week and then start feeding the cake! With a skewer or carving fork make holes all over the base of the cake and gently pour 1 or 2 tbsp of e.g. brandy into the holes. Allow it to soak in, wrap the cake up again until the following week when you feed it again and so on until Christmas.
Enjoy and merry Christmas!
If you'd like to visit Heather's new UK restaurant near Cambridge you can contact her via: www.carpentersarmsgastropub.co.uk
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