This recipe makes a fine tasting cake that will do you justice at christmas when your guests taste it, and comes courtesy of my wife Joy, who traditionally makes the christmas cake every year. In Italy there is no cake that comes close to ‘our’ christmas cake, the nearest they have is Panetone, which is a chewy yeast based confection, which in its own way is very pleasant, and is most like the british glazed teacake in texture. Most Italians cannot grasp the concept of a cake that can be kept for months and even years (in the case of christening cakes traditionly being the top tier of a wedding cake). It is seemingly beyond their comprehension that a cake that old can be edible let alone delicious. We have given up trying to convince them. Still it is their loss not ours.
This recipe gives about 24 slices, takes about 30 minutes to prepare and about 3 hours to cook.
800kg/1 1/2lbs/ 3 1/2 cups mixed sultanas, raisins and currants
100gm/3 1/2oz/ 1/2 cup glaciated mixed fruits
100gm/3 1/2oz/ 1/2 cup glaciated cherries chopped
100gm/3 1/2oz/ 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
100gm/3 1/2oz/ 1/2 cupdried figs, roughly chopped
80gm/3oz/ 1/3 cup flaked almonds
1 orange, zest and juice
150ml/ 5floz/ 1/2 cup/ sherry or masarla
250gm/8oz/ 1cup unsalted butter at room temperature
175gm/5 1/2oz/ 1 cup soft brown sugar
15ml/ 1/2 floz/ 3 teaspoons golden syrup
5ml/ – / 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
5 mediem eggs, lightly beaten
300gm/10 oz/ 1 cup plain flour
75gm/2 1/2 oz/ 1/4 cup self raising flour
5ml/ – 1 teaspoon ground ginger
5ml/ – /1 teaspoon ground mace
5ml/ – /1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5ml/ – / 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
15ml/ 1/2 floz/ 3 teaspoons orange marmalade
You will need a 20 x 9 cm deep spring form cake tin for this recipe
- Mix together the dried fuit,almonds, orange zest and juice and sherry in a large mixing bowl. Cover and allow to soak overnight.
- Grease and double line the cake tin with baking parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the golden syrup.
- Stir the vanilla essence into the eggs and then stir into the butter and sugar mixture.
- Sieve the flours and spices into the mixture gently folding in.
- Fold in the marmalade and add the nuts and dried fruit, stirring gently to achieve a uniform mixture.
- Spoon into your prepared cake tin, smoothing the top and forming a small depression in the centre.
- Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven set at 150C/300F/Gas 2/Slow for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake.
- After about 2 hours you may need to cover the top with foil to stop it burning for the remainder of the cooking time.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for at least an hour before removing it from the tin. Leave it to cool completely on a wire rack.
- When completely cool, wrap in baking parchment and foil and then in an airtight tin. Store in a cool place,
- Every 4 weeks you can ‘feed’ it by making holes across the top with a skewer and pouring on 20ml/ 3/4floz/1 tablespoon of sherry or port.