**** This post was first published on 19th November 2015. It has now been updated with new pictures and a video *****
A couple of months ago I shortlisted the recipe of the Christmas cake I was going to bake this year. Not so much in favour of boozy cakes I decided to bake my cake a few days before Christmas day but everything changed the minute I set my eyes on this recipe which my cousin Prema shared with me over a chat on whatsapp. She and I love to discuss cakes and bakes and every year we discuss and shortlist recipes for Christmas. Sharing of ideas helps as the internet is so huge now and it’s just impossible to scan all the recipes single handedly. The recipe looked easy and the amount of fruit that was required wasn’t as much as that in my previously shortlisted recipe. The outcome would be the same infact better I am sure as this cake now needs a total of 4-5 feeds over a span of a month. Perfect timing, I thought to myself. I baked this two days ago and wanted to share the recipe immediately but got caught up with my chores.
If you want to get into the Christmas mood a little early this year, go make this cake this weekend. You will still have 4 weeks before you cut the cake for Christmas – enough time to give the cake its boozy feeds. If you dislike the alcohol in it just skip it. Soak the fruits in everything except the alcohol and bake the cake a couple of days prior to cutting it so that it gives it a little rest and helps the flavours mature a bit.
Traditional Irish Christmas Cake
For the fruit Mix (To be soaked overnight)
- 450 grams (1 lb) sultanas (golden kishmish)
- 225 grams (1/2 lb) raisins (brown kishmish)
- 225 grams (1/2 lb) currants (black kishmish)
- 100 grams (4 oz) glacé cherries (candied), halved or whole, not chopped
- 50 grams (2 oz) mixed candied peel, finely chopped (I used candied papaya)
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon I skipped this
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
- grated zest & juice of 1 orange
- 2 medium sized apples, finely grated
- 100 grams almonds slivered
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 4 tablespoons Irish whiskey
For the cake:
- 280 grams (10 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 225 grams (8 oz) soft brown sugar
- 5 eggs
- 280 grams (10 oz) all-purpose flour (maida)
- 50 grams (2 oz) almond powder (ground almonds)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Soak the fruit the night before you plan to bake your cake:
- Roughly chop the sultanas, raisins and currants. Finely chop the candied peel. Halve the glacé cherries if they are whole. Don’t chop them. Place all these dry fruits along with the rest of the ingredients mentioned under For the fruit Mix (To be soaked overnight) in a big bowl, mix well and cover with cling wrap.
Prepare the baking tin (very important – don’t skip this step as the cake will bake for hours and you don’t want to burn it!)
- You will need an 8″ square or a 9″ round pan with tall, straight sides, preferably a spring form pan. Make sure that the pan does not have handles/flat on the sides (like the one’s by Prestige brand). This is because you will need to cover the sides of the baking tin with baking paper to prevent the cake from burning.
- Grease and line the base of the baking tin with baking parchment. Next, grease and line the sides of the pan with baking parchment that extends a little over the sides (the sides of the paper should be higher than the sides of the tin – this is because your cake will rise much above the depth of the cake so you don’t want it to spill over or form a muffin top).
- Take two long sheets of baking paper and fold them in half, horizontally and cover the tin on the outside and fasten it with a string (I managed this with stapler pins – but make sure the pins don’t come lose and fall into your batter!). Your cake tin will be invisible by now. Basically you are securing the tin in such a way as if a crown or a chef’s hat has been placed around it.
- Cut an extra round or square piece of baking parchment and cut a cross mark in the centre. This sheet will be placed right on top of your tin to protect the batter from browning too fast.
Bake the Cake – After the fruits have been soaked for at least 12 hours
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (or 140 C if you are using a fan oven).
- Sift the flour and the salt together into a bowl. Stir in the almond powder and set aside
- In a large bowl beat the butter and the sugar until the mixture looks pale. Add the eggs one by one beating between each addition. If the mixture looks like it is curdling then just add a tablespoon or two of flour.
- When all the eggs have been beaten, add the flour in parts and fold it into the mixture using a spatula.
- Now mix the soaked fruits in parts, folding to incorporate. Any remaining liquid of the fruits needs to be added as well.
- The batter will be quite stiff – transfer it into the prepared tin and level off on all sides using a spoon. Smoothen it in such a way that the sides are slightly higher than the centre (this is because the centre will rise anyway and we don’t want much of a dome shaped cake here)
- Cover the top of the tin with the extra round/square sheet of baking parchment and bake for approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The baking time may vary depending on the type/size of your oven. The original recipe called for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours but I kept an eye on the cake after 1 hour 15 mins and checked it every 20 mins thereafter. When the skewer inserted inside comes out clean the cake is done.
- Remove and leave the cake to cool overnight in its tin on a wire rack. Next day, remove from the tin and peel off the parchment
Feeding the Cake
- If you wish to feed the cake in the runup to Christmas, then place the cake upside down and poke 5-6 deep holes using a wooden skewer. Pour 1/2 teaspoon of whiskey into each of the holes.
- Cover the cake well with parchment paper or cling film/saran wrap and place in an airtight box
- Repeat the process every 10 days for at least 4 weeks for best results (feeding to be done only once in 10 days and not daily!)
- When you are ready to serve, ice the cake with marzipan (recipe to follow) and serve!
The nutritional values are only indicative.