No British holiday is complete without a classic Christmas cake. Though this recipe may look complicated, it's actually quite approachable if you assemble and weigh all the ingredients and line the cake tin before you start.
The cake can be made at least two months before Christmas for it to mature and to be fed with brandy earlier if you'd like. If you are making it later, don't worry—it will still taste delicious.
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A Classic British Christmas Cake
For the cake, you will need:
- 2 1/2 sticks butter (slightly softened)
- 10 ounces soft brown sugar
- 1/2 lemon (zested)
- 6 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 18 ounces currants
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground)
- Pinch salt
- 8 ounces golden raisins/sultanas
- 8 ounces raisins
- 4 ounces mixed candied peel (finely chopped)
- 6 ounces glace cherries (halved)
- 3 tablespoons brandy (plus more for feeding)
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Cream the Butter and Sugar
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tablespoon of flour and mix again. This should bring the mixture back together. If it doesn't come back together, don't fret, the cake will still be delicious.
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The Cake Batter
Once you have creamed together the butter, sugar and added the eggs, your mixture should be light, fluffy, and pale in color.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Pour Batter Into the Tin
Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets. Once filled, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Bake in the center of the oven for 4 1/2 hours. If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 2 1/2 hours. During the cooking time, avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.
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Leave to Cool
Set the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour. Remove it from the tin, taking off the paper, and leave to cool completely.
Once cooled, prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas.
The cake should be wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper and stored in an airtight tin.
If you like to ice the Christmas cake, leave this for until a week or two before Christmas, or served as it is. It's delicious with a piece of Wensleydale Cheese.