I first came acros this recipe in Delia Smith’s Classic Christmas Book a number of years ago now and it is a recipe is for those who want a complete break with tradition and to try something completely new. This is much more fruit than cake; it’s extremely moist, so much so that it could be eaten as a dessert with whipped cream. Don’t be put off by the large amount of alcohol or the length of time the fruit is steeped in it; the wonderful flavour of the cake makes every drop totally worthwhile. It is now my favourite Christmas Cake Recipe and always gets rave reviews. I have also used this recipe when a fruit wedding cake has been requested.
- For the pre-soaking
- 3 tablespoons rum
- 3 tablespoons brandy
- 3 tablespoons cherry brandy
- 3 tablespoons port
- 1½ teaspoons Angostura bitters
- ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ level teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ level teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ level teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 level tablespoon molasses sugar
- 2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, chopped
- 1 lb (450 g) raisins
- 4 oz (110 g) pitted no-soak prunes, chopped
- 8 oz (225 g) currants
- 4 oz (110 g) mixed candied peel
- 2 oz (50 g) mixed chopped nuts
- For the cake:
- 9 oz (250 g) self-raising flour
- 9 oz (250 g) demerara sugar
- 9 oz (250 g) butter, at room temperature
- 5 large eggs
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin, or a 9 inch (23 cm) round tin, greased, and the base and sides lined with a double thickness of silicone paper (baking parchment).
One week before you intend to bake the cake, measure out the rum, brandy, cherry brandy, port, bitters and 3 tablespoons water into a large saucepan. Then add the rest of the pre-soaking ingredients, ticking them with a pencil as you go to make sure nothing gets left out. Now stir and bring the mixture up to simmering point, then, keeping the heat low, simmer very gently for 15 minutes. After that allow everything to cool completely, then pour the mixture into a large jar with a lid or an airtight plastic container and leave it in the fridge for seven days, shaking or stirring it around from time to time.
When you’re ready to bake the cake, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). All you do is measure out the flour, sugar and softened butter into a very large mixing bowl, then add the eggs and either whisk or beat with a wooden spoon until everything is blended. Now gradually fold in the fruit mixture until it’s all evenly distributed. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon. Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours without opening the door, then cover the cake with a double thickness of silicone paper and continue to bake it for a further hour or until the centre feels springy when lightly touched.
Cool the cake for 45 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it’s completely cold, wrap in double silicone paper and then foil and store in an airtight container.
There’s no need to feed this cake as it already has enough booze, but it does improve with keeping for about 1 month before cutting.