If you haven’t already, it’s time to get thinking about your Christmas cake! For me, this normally starts back in October becuase I like to soak the fruit for the cake in LOTS of alcohol. You dont need to soak it for that long, even a few days would be enough though.
However, if like me, you find the idea of trying to eat a huge Christmas cake a bit daunting, or maybe there arent that many in your family to share it with, I’ve got another option for you…and you still get to eat your delicious homemade Christmas cake!
Last year it was just going to be myself and my husband eating the majority of the cake so instead baking a huge one like we normally do and struggling to eat it alone, I decided to make essentially a tray bake Christmas cake instead so it wasnt so big and we could have bite size pieces instead of huge slices.
Here is the recipe if you fancy giving it a go this year. Oh, and it also makes great little homemade gifts too…
250g natural glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
100 chopped apricots
150ml brandy, plus extra for feeding
150ml Disaronno, plus extra for feeding
250g un-salted butter, softened
250g light muscovado sugar
4 free-range eggs
1 tbsp black treacle
250g plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
Half a jar of marmalade
1/ Firstly, place all the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl and pour over the brandy and disaronno and stir. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak for three days (the longer the better), stirring daily.
2/ Line a deep tray bake tin with a layer of greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.
3/ Measure the butter, sugar, eggs and treacle into a large bowl and beat well. Once you have thoroughly beaten the mixture, add the flour and ground spice and mix thoroughly until blended.
4/ Lightly flour the soaked fruit (this will help them stay up in the cake and not sink to the bottom) and stir into the mixture. Then pour into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
5/ Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 2 hours (but check OFTEN), until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean once the cake is ready. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
6/ When the cake has cooled, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra brandy and disaronno (dependant on taste).
7/ Depending on how long you have, keep feeding your cake everyday with more brandy and disaronno – OPTIONAL STEP
8/ Once you’re happy with the alcohol content, you can begin covering it with the marzipan and icing. Fondant icing is easier to roll out and manipulate.
Brush the cake with marmalade before putting on the marzipan, this will help it to stick to the cake and gives it a delicious, stick, orangey zing! It also helps to keep the cake moist until you eat it.
Then roll out your marzipan into the same shape as your tray. Make sure you roll out enough to cover the cake and the sides and carefully lift it over the cake with your rolling ppin.Once it’s in place, use the palms of your hands in circular motions to help ease the marzipan flat to the cake. This also helps get rid of air bubbles and make it look smoother.
9/ Then cover the cake in a thin layer of marmalade and do the same with the fondant icing as you did with the marzipan.
10/ Once you are happy with how it looks, you can begin to decorate your cake however you’d like. I went for these cute little red berries and green leaves (holly & berries) using coloured fondant icing. I did it by hand as I didn’t have small cutters but you might be able to find somewhere online that sells them ready to go.
If you like the idea of giving them as gifts, you can buy really cheap little plastic bags to put them in. Gifts that went down REALLY well with my family!