How to make and mature Christmas cake

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Christmas is on the way and even with the current restrictions, many are looking forward to getting down to doing the usual: cooking and baking traditional Christmas treats. Christmas cake has long been one of the most popular puddings eaten in the big day and beyond.

However, Christmas cakes are not for the impatient, as they take weeks to mature before they are ready for eating.

Christmas cakes need to spend around six weeks maturing before they are ready to eat – so now is the time to start getting your cake ready in time for December 25.

At first glance, a Christmas cake seems complicated to make because of the long ingredient list.

However, the assembly is very straightforward – and for such little effort you can have a cake that will last months.

You will need:

• 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)

• zest and juice 1 orange

• zest and juice 1 lemon

• 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding

• 250g pack butter, softened

• 200g light soft brown sugar

• 175g plain flour

 100g ground almond

• ½ tsp baking powder

• 2 tsp mixed spice

• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

• ¼ tsp ground cloves

• 100g flaked almonds

• 4 large eggs

• 1 tsp vanilla extract


Put 1kg of mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan.

Set it over medium heat and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Decant the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool down for half an hour.

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Heat the oven to 150C and while waiting for it to heat up, line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking paper.

Following this, wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

Once the mixture has cooled, tip it into the prepared tin.

Level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

Once done, remove from the oven and skewer hole throughout the top of the cake.

Pour over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol, and leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

To mature the cake, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place

Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.

Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

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