I wasn’t planning on making a Christmas Cake this year, and only really decided to do so the night I returned to Rome from Florence. I think I was feeling guilty, and even though Joseph probably won’t even taste it, I have this need to create ‘food memories’ for when my children are older and reminisce over childhood Christmases. My mother’s recipe is double this recipe and also requires six hours in the oven. It really requires the love and care of at least six weeks of brandy feeding, and I definitely was running too late to do her recipe any justice. I found an easy Christmas Cake recipe online after studying many, but I have changed the fruit to make it a bit more interesting and original. I’m curious as well to see how it will taste. The weight of the fruit stayed the same, but I decided to use dried figs, cranberries, dates and visciole (which are a type of cherry), to change the normal raisin/sultana/currant combination.
Easy Christmas Cake
1 ¼ Cups sultanas
1 ½ Cups Visciole (Italian sour cherry)
1 ½ Cups cranberries
¾ Cups currants
¾ Cups chopped dry figs
¾ Cup chopped or slivered almonds
¾ Cup chopped dates
¾ Cup (188ml) brandy
300g softened butter
1 ¼ Cups dark brown sugar
2 ¼ Cups plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1-3 tablespoons brandy, extra, (and then some more)
*Place all fruit and almonds in a bowl and pour over brandy. Cover and allow to macerate overnight (preferably), or at least 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line a 20cm square cake tin with double layers of baking paper, base and sides.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy, circa 6-8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Place the soaked fruit and almonds in a large bowl. (I use a large saucepan). Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice and mix well ensuring fruit is coated well.
Add in parts to butter/sugar mixture and mix until all is combined. You can use your electric mixer if there is enough room in the bowl for the cake batter, otherwise you can mix it all just as well with a wooden spoon. (I use a large saucepan when using my mother’s recipe).
Spoon mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 2 hours 25 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Using the skewer, poke some holes in the cake and brush over extra brandy while cake is still warm, and allow cake to cool in tin. Keep your Christmas Cake wrapped up. I usually leave it wrapped in oven paper, and sometimes even leave it in the cake tin until I’m ready to cut it. Then cover in plastic wrap and then kitchen foil. Christmas Cakes can be ‘fed’ with brandy every 4 days or once a week for a few months prior to Christmas. Make sure that the cake is always well wrapped up after each ‘feeding’. I definitely left mine until the last minute, so it won’t be fed much at all. It will be interesting to see though how moist it is when I cut into it. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share photos with you all.