I love this time of year. I’m a sucker for scented candles, frothy hot chocolates, snuggly blankets and cosy afternoons in the kitchen baking things that smell delicious and scent the whole house with clementine and spice. If you fancy making your own Christmas cake, whether you’re an old hand at this sort of thing, or whether this is your first time, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you. I guess it’s a bit intimidating thinking about making a Christmas cake, but this one is all just weighing and stirring – nothing complicated at all (and stirring is really therapeutic, trust me). Anyhoo, if you’ve been wondering how to make a Christmas cake, or have been looking for an easy recipe, here goes!
Rum soaked Christmas cake
200g dried cranberries
100g glacé cherries
200g soft, dried apricots, chopped
4 tbsp honey
2 clementines, zest and juice
150ml rum (I used The Duppy Share)
200g dark brown sugar
200g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3 large free range eggs, beaten
Step 1: prep
If you’re using a normal cake tin, make sure you grease it really well and line with a double layer of baking paper. Keep the baking paper really high out of the tin which will protect the cake while it’s cooking. Weigh out all the ingredients and give the fruit a quick pick over to remove any stems. Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2 and you’re ready to go!
Step 2: give your dried fruit a delicious, boozy bath
Put all the fruit into a large saucepan (I keep the cherries out, and add them to the top at the end) on a low heat, add in the honey, clementine zest and juice, rum and butter. Give it all a stir and leave it to luxuriate in its boozy bath, stirring occasionally. When the butter is melted, you can turn it off and allow to cool (the smell of the steeping fruit is heaven – better than any air freshener). Then turn it off and leave it to cool a little.
Step 3: bring it all together and…. bake!
When your steeped fruit is back down to room temperature, you can stir in the dry ingredients and the eggs. Spoon the mixture into your tin (s) making sure you fill all the little edgy bits, then give it a couple of sharp bangs on the work surface to release any air bubbles. I pop the cherries on the top and press them down a little into the mixture. Bake for around 2 1/2 to 3 hours, covering with foil if it gets too dark during cooking. Check by pushing a skewer into the middle of the cake to see if it comes out clean, and give it a gentle press – it should spring back. This tin is quite wide (25cm – I love it because it has a lid) and gives a large, shallow cake that cooks evenly in dead on 2 1/2 hours, but if your tin is smaller and deeper, it might take a bit longer.
Step 4: feeding your Christmas cake
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, take a couple of spoonfuls of rum and drizzle them over the top of the cake. Then, every so often, say once a week, ‘feed’ it by stabbing with a cocktail stick and drizzling with a little more rum.
Step 5: storage
This cake will keep beautifully now, well wrapped with baking paper and then foil, until Christmas. I quite like it ‘naked’, but if you want to decorate it, have a look at my instructions for icing your Christmas cake: the marzipan and fondant icing layers here. As usual, any problems give me a shout on here or on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll do my best to help!
Thoughts on using a bundt tin:
I found this Nordic Ware gingerbread house duet pan in HomeSense (I’m a sucker for a bundt tin – remember last year’s Christmas cake?) and thought they would make cute little Christmas cakes. If you’re going to give it a go, here are my thoughts on cooking with a bundt tin:
- For a bundt tin, I think a cake spray is best, but some people swear by brushing them with butter and then coating with flour.Don’t overfill as obviously the mixture rises. I had some left over and just popped it into a spare cake tin.
- I’m not going to lie, with these bundt tins, especially when they’re not standard size, timing often comes down to trial and error. Mine took about an hour and 10 minutes.
- Don’t try and release the cake until it’s cooled completely
- Also not going to lie – because of the shape, certain parts of the exterior, like the chimneys, were pretty well done. Maybe it’s best just to stick to a normal cake rather than a fruit cake, which needs a long slow bake. I’m going to give it a go cooking a gingerbread cake mixture in this tin and I’ll let you know how I get on.
Thoughts on booze
I wanted to make a really boozy, rum soaked Christmas cake and thought that the delicious The Duppy Share rum we’ve been drinking recently would be perfect – it’s a gorgeous, golden blend of fiery Jamaican rum, full of tropical fruit flavours, and smooth Barbadian rum that gives it a lovely smooth, buttery finish. Oh, and if you haven’t about Duppy, here’s the story: Duppy are the legendary dark spirits from the Caribbean – they swoosh between all the different distilleries stealing the best rum (as rum ages in barrels, some is naturally lost through evaporation). In the Caribbean, they call it the ‘Duppy share’.