Every year I like to get in the festive spirit by making a Christmas cake! I LOVE Christmas cake but I didn’t get round to making one last year. Maybe because I had a 4 month old baby going through a growth spurt and a sleep regression. I’m quite late in making mine this year. I usually do it in October to give me plenty of time to feed it lots of alcohol.
But, the bonus in being late, is that Alfie gets to try out his new boys personalised apron, sent to us by the lovely Arty apple! I was so excited to have Alfie’s help in making the cake this year, especially as we made his own little baby cake (that doesn’t contain any alcohol of course!) and him having his very own apron meant that I didn’t have to worry about how messy he got.
I love getting parcels through the post, and love even more when something comes in pretty packaging! The apron arrived in a lovely branded box, wrapped in gorgeous paper, making it the perfect gift to send to someone directly if you needed to.
The apron itself is so cute, with a little gingerbread man on the front, and Alfie’s name above it. It is made from a gorgeous denim material, so is very hardwearing and great at keeping all the sticky mess away from the clothes, whilst being very stylish! It comes in two different sizes – 2-6 years and 7-13 years. Alfie is only 16 months, but luckily very tall so his apron is a great fit on him. But it’s big enough that I know it will last him quite a while, meaning it’s excellent value for money!
Once we had got ourselves prepared, we got on with making our cake. I use the same recipe every year – a classic Delia Smith one. I have amended it slightly as I’m not a huge fan of almonds, so tend to skip those, and I also have changed some quantities/measures slightly from the original recipe. Here’s how I make my classic Christmas cake:
800g mixed fruit (pre-soaked in brandy)
225g plain flour
1/4 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
225g dark brown soft sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons black treacle
225g unsalted butter
Brandy for ‘feeding’
If your fruits aren’t pre-soaked, then you can do this the night before (or, if you like a really boozy cake, a week before like I usually do!). This year I bought pre-soaked fruits, to make it slightly quicker.
Pre-heat your oven to 140°C.
Add the flour, spices, sugar, eggs and butter. You should also add the treacle at this stage (tip: warm the spoon first by running under hot/boiling water so the treacle should slide right off into the bowl – hopefully!). Turn on the electric mixer and mix until everything is smooth. I use an electric food mixer to make all my cakes, as it’s so much quicker, but you can also use a hand held mixer. I usually turn the machine off at regular intervals and use a spatula to scrap the sides to ensure everything is properly mixed.
Then tip in your pre-soaked fruits to the mixture and give it a good stir to evenly distribute the fruits. If you are following Delia’s original recipe, you can add the chopped nuts and zest of the orange and lemon (I didn’t have the fruit in the house and don’t like nuts so skipped this bit!).
Once it was all mixed, I took the bowl off and gave it to Alfie to have a stir. When I was a child, I remember helping my nan make the Christmas cake, and all the grandkids got to have a stir of the mixture and make a wish. She always mixed by hand, so it took a lot longer – but then she did have 12 grandkids to help with the stirring!
Tip the cake mixture into the cake tins. I use an 8inch spring form tin, lined with baking paper to stop the cake mixture sticking. Delia then advises putting a double layer of baking paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection. I have in the past used a cake release spray, but I’ve found the baking paper method much better.
Finally, put a double square of baking paper with a small hole in the centre on top of the cake (tip: put it on top of the baking paper around the tin, not the actual cake).
Bake the cake on the lowest shelf for 4 hours until it feels springy in the centre. In Delia’s recipe, she advises it may take a little longer.
Once it is fully cooked, leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, and then remove from the tin to finish cooling.
Wrap in tin foil and place in an airtight container until you are ready to ice.
I will regularly be feeding the cake until I decide to ice it (which I’ll probably do the day before Christmas eve). To ‘feed’ the cake, use a cocktail stick to make holes all over the cake, and then spoon the brandy over it (I usually use the lid of the bottle and pour two or three lid-fulls over it once a week. I may do it a bit more regularly as I’ve made it a bit later this year, to ensure a really boozy cake!)
And there you have it – a lovely, boozy Christmas cake!
I haven’t decided my final design of the icing yet, but I’m getting lots of ideas from Pinterest, so I’ll do an update post once it’s iced and ready to eat.
I’m very pleased to say that Alfie’s lovely apron kept him clean and dry throughout the baking process. It’s a beautiful item and I would highly recommend having a look at the Arty apple website as there are lots of lovely personalised bits that would make perfect Christmas presents.
Have you done any Christmas baking yet? Do you have any tried and tested recipes that you do every year?
Disclosure: I was sent the Boys Personalised Apron by Arty Apple to review, but all opinions are my own.
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