Christmas Cake

Great British Bake Off champion Edd Kimber came on to Woman's Hour to show Jane how to create a scrumptious Christmas Cake.

Kimber Family Christmas Cake

"I have no idea how old this recipe is, it has definitely been made every Christmas by my Mum and before that by my Nana so who knows how old it really is. When I was taught this recipe there wasn't even anything written down, it was one of those recipes that just existed in family members heads." This cake is a little different to the traditional dark and heavy cakes that so many people don't like, this is lighter and less dense.

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Tips and techniques

  1. The quality of fruit is important. You can improve cheap dried fruit by soaking in alcohol, but try and buy the best you can get, so they are juicy and flavourful.
  2. To bake: Grease and triple line a deep 10-inch round cake pan with parchment.
  3. To test: use a skewer to insert into the middle of the cake - if it comes out clean it is cooked.
  4. Homemade marzipan has a nice flavour and a grainy texture. You can use shop bought, which is smoother and easy to roll out and work with, but it can sometimes be bland.
  5. You can make fondant icing with sugar paste. Draw criss-cross lines with a knife on top to create squares and add beads on top to create a posh pillow effect.

Ingredients

  • 225g sultanas
  • 225g raisins
  • 225g currants
  • 110g mixed candied peel
  • 110g glace cherries
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tblsp brandy
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 225g plain flour
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice

Preparation method

The night before you want to make the cake place the fruits, zests and brandy in a large bowl and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to soak overnight.

The following day preheat the oven to 150C/300F and grease and triple line with parchment a deep 10-inch round cake pan.

Sieve the flour, almonds, salt and spices together into a medium bowl.

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs a little at a time beating until fully combined.

With the mixer on low add the flour mixture a large spoonful at a time, mixing just until combined. Using a large spatula or metal spoon fold in the fruit.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour. Reduce the temperature to 100C/210F and bake for a further 2 hours until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the cake is browning too fast lightly tent with foil.

Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing.

Ingredients - Marzipan and icing

  • 350g ground almonds
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • juice ½ lemon
  • few drops of almond extract
  • few drops orange blossom water (optional)

Preparation method - Marzipan

Add all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and mix together. Mix all the liguids together and add to the almond mixture mixing to form a firm and manageable paste. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

To decorate the cake divide the almond paste into two amounts. Roll the first into a round to just cover the top, and the second into a long strip to cover the sides (you may have leftovers). Brush the fruitcake with warmed apricot jam and gently press the almond paste onto the cake and smooth with hands dusted with icing sugar to seal the two pieces together. Allow the cake to sit overnight so the almond paste dries out.

To cover in sugarpaste dust a clean work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out 1.25kg sugarpaste until nice and thin (about 50p thickness). Brush the cake again with warmed apricot jam and gently lift the sugarpaste over the cake and gently drape into place, decorate as you wish.

If you don't like the idea of working with sugarpaste or don't like the taste use royal icing and skip the second brushing of apricot jam. You (or the kids) can just spread it over the cake with a spatula and make it look as neat or messy as you want.

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