There are only seven weeks till Christmas and with ‘Stir-up Sunday” being 24th November, if you haven’t already started making your Christmas Cake I have decided to put together a list of tips to help get you through making the cake without turning to the bottle of Brandy! With the nights getting darker and the evenings getting colder it is the perfect time to begin plumping up your fruit and make the house warmer and smell delicious with your Christmas Cake baking in the oven!
The Christmas Cake is a merger of two dishes the plum porridge (I think this would taste a lot nicer than it sounds!) and Twelfth Night Cake, the plum porridge was traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. In the 16th Century the oatmeal was replaced by butter and flour. The cake was originally boiled rather than baked and it wasn’t until people became richer and started to have ovens in their homes, that the cake was then baked.
Make sure you soak the fruit to make it nice and plump, this will also help to keep your cake moist. The fruit will absorb all the fruit juice or alcohol, the general guidance for doing this is for around 12 hours or if possible 14-48 hours. Some suggest that before baking the cake you put a bowl of water in the oven to keep the cake moist whilst it is baking. Do no open the door on the oven till the cake has been in the oven for at least three quarters of the cooking time.
Once the cake is cooked and cooled and prepared to store, remember to feed the cake (and not yourself) brandy etc. periodically as this will also ensure for a nice moist cake. After thorough research the most favoured Christmas Cake recipe is the Delia Smith recipe. The recipe is for an 8″ round cake, however if you do not have a tin that size, there is a great guide for scaling up your cake recipes.
Once it is time to dress your cake, make sure you dress it to its best after all you may be using it as your Christmas centrepiece. Make sure you take the time to roll your marzipan to the correct thickness and size, you can even be extra precise and use the marzipan spacers to get an even thickness on your marzipan and icing.