A Christmas Cake Adventure: Part 1

I’ve been all about a homemade Christmas cake for the last few years now, and it’s become a really fun project for Mum and I to work on together, coming up with different decorating ideas and putting them into practice.

Last year’s gingerbread house themed Christmas cake was definitely a proud moment in my baking adventures, so it’s exciting (and a little nerve-wracking) trying to come up with an equally awesome cake design for this year!christmascake1012I’ve never really known when exactly you should make your Christmas cake. I’ve heard stories of cakes made so far in advance that they’re done in time for Valentine’s Day, and while I love to be prepared, that’s a little much for me! The idea is to let the cake mature, so the flavours can develop and become so totally yummy that you just can’t resist another slice!

After suddenly coming over all Christmassy in the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d just get on with it, so I set myself up for a Christmas cake baking session earlier in the week.

I always turn to my trusted Be-Ro book for traditional recipes, so it was definitely my first choice for a really homely Christmas cake recipe, and it didn’t disappoint! Sometimes we choose to make a lighter fruit cake, but I decided to go the whole hog this year with a dense sponge packed with tonnes of fruit (just shy of a kilo of fruit in fact!), for a proper Christmas treat!

20131113_101501The original recipe calls for a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants, glacé cherries and mixed peel. As a family, we tend to have an aversion to glacé cherries and mixed peel, so I omitted them from my cake and made up the difference with extra currants and raisins. It’s easy to do, and allows you to tailor your cake to your specific taste, ensuring optimum delicious appeal!MontageOnce the cake mixture was all combined, it was quite a work out mixing in the fruit! With quite a large quantity and a really dense mixture, there was certainly some elbow grease required to get the fruit incorporated evenly, but we all know that baking can be good for your muscles!
20131113_104315After adding the mixture to the greased and lined cake tin, I followed the instructions to wrap the tin in foil about 2-3 inches above the height of the tin. The idea of this is to protect the cake while it’s in the oven. After 3 hours (of the 4.5 hour cooking time) you cover the top of the cake to prevent it from browning too much while the inside continue to bake.

I left the cake to cool overnight in the tin before turning it out, to make sure the structure was totally sturdy and minimise the risk of crumbling! After peeling off the grease proof paper I was super pleased with the outcome of my efforts – the cake looks and smells delicious! I’ve set it aside in a cake tin lined with grease proof paper to mature over the coming weeks. I’ll be adding a splash of brandy every now and again for the full on Christmas cake flavour, and I look forward to coming up with a fun decorating plan!20131114_092655

Have you ever made your own Christmas cake? Will you give one a go this year?

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