Covered with almond paste and iced in a simple style, this rich fruit Christmas cake looks impressive. It should be prepared at least one month ahead to allow the flavours to develop.
IngredientsFor the cake:
- 1 cup (225 g) butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups (280 g) brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups (250 g) plain flour, sifted
- 3 cups (375 g) sultanas
- 2 cups (300 g) currants
- 3 cups (375 g) seedless raisins, roughly chopped
- 2 cup (420 g) glacé cherries, cut in halves
- 3⁄4 cup (140 g) mixed candied peel, chopped
- 3⁄4 cup (80 g) ground almonds
- finely grated zest of 1 large orange
- finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) rum whisky or brandy, for sprinkling over the cake before icing
- 4 1/2 cups (455 g) ground almonds
- 1 1⁄2 cup (185 g) icing sugar, sifted
- 1 1⁄2 cup (345 g) caster sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon almond essence or vanilla essence
- 3 tablespoon apricot jam, heated and sieved
- 3 cups (375 g) icing sugar, sifted
- 4 eggwhites
- 1 tablespoon glycerine
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Line the base and sides of a 23 cm round cake tin with a double thickness of greaseproof paper.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until very light and ﬂuffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. As there is a larger proportion than normal of eggs to the other ingredients in this recipe, the mixture will curdle a little, but do not worry.
- Fold in the ﬂour and mix in the dried fruit, glacé cherries, chopped peel, ground almonds and the grated orange and lemon rinds.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 3 1/2–4 hours, or until a warmed skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 1 hour, then carefully turn it out on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
- Without removing the baking paper, wrap the cold cake in plastic wrap, then overwrap it in foil. Put the wrapped cake into an airtight container and store in a cool, dry, airy cupboard until you are ready to ice it.
Almond pastePreparation and icing time: 1 hour
Drying time: 24 hours
- Mix the ground almonds with the sifted icing sugar and the caster sugar. Add egg yolks and the almond or vanilla essence and mix to form a soft, but not sticky, paste. Smooth by kneading very briefly on a work surface lightly sifted with icing sugar.
- Remove cake from its wrappings and place upside-down in the centre of a 30-cm round, gold or silver cake board, or on a cake stand, if preferred.
- Using a fine, clean skewer, make several holes in the base of the cake; insert the skewer to a depth of about 4 cm. Spoon rum, whisky or brandy over the base of the cake and allow it to gradually seep into the holes.
- Roll out the almond paste to a neat round about 33-cm in diameter. Turn cake right side up and brush all over with the warm, sieved apricot jam.
- Carefully lift the paste onto the cake; smooth it evenly over the top and down the side, pressing it gently but flrmly into position. Trim off any excess paste from the base. Smooth paste with a palette knife.
- Leave cake, uncovered, in a cool, dry place for 24 hours to allow the paste to dry completely before adding the icing.
Royal icingPreparation and icing time: 1 hour
Drying time: 24 hours
- Place sifted icing sugar and the eggwhites in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth, white and fluffy; beat in the glycerine and lemon juice.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of icing mixture onto the cake; spread evenly over the top only. Using a clean metal ruler, smooth the icing by pulling the ruler across the top of the cake. Trim away any excess icing. Leave overnight to dry.
- Put remaining icing in a clean bowl, cover the surface closely with cling wrap and refrigerate. Next day, beat the icing and coat the top of the cake again; smooth icing as before.
- Spread remaining icing around the side of the cake; let a little come up onto the top. Use a palette knife to work icing up into attractive peaks and swirls.
- Leave icing to dry overnight. Decorate with your choice of Christmas ornaments.