Make and Mature Christmas Cake

While this is actually our second married Christmas, it is our first at home - as we were away for the holidays last year. Along with being at home for my favourite season, comes a whole host of little Christmas traditions. We are still finalising our advent calendar - but have the important things like the Christmas lunch menu and colour scheme of the tree sorted.

One tradition I wasn't planning on, was that of a Christmas cake. It's just generally not an aspect of Christmas I love that much...until I tried making my own. I found a fantastic recipe for a 'make and mature' Christmas cake - by 'mature' please read 'let soak in brandy for a month'. I included more of the things I love - extra orange zest, spices and preserved ginger...and increased the brandy soaking quantity substantially.

While it is a little too early to tell if it's been a success, the smell coming out of the oven is promising. Now, to keep it happily fed with brandy for the next month - and I think I might have my new favourite Christmas tradition.

Recipe adapted from here 

1kg mixed dried fruits 
100g glace or preserved ginger, finely chopped
zest and juice of 3 oranges
150ml brandy (plus 50ml for soaking)
250g softened butter
200g light soft brown sugar
175g cake flour
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the dried fruit, orange juice and zest, brandy, butter and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium high heat. Allow to simmer for give minutes, while stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit starts to soften and plump.

Place the fruit mixture in a bowl and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a deep 20cm cake tin (loose bottomed) with baking paper. Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture, stirring until the flour is well incorporated. Bake for 2 hours. 

Remove the cake from the oven, pierce holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 50ml of additional brandy. Allow to cool completely, before wrapping tightly in layers of cling film. Place in a dark cupboard - add 20ml brandy to it each week, then reseal. This is perfect made 4 weeks before Christmas.

Images taken with a Canon EOS 600D from


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