A quick Christmas Cake sounds like a contradiction but this cake can be made at the last minute, marzipanned and iced on Christmas Eve, ready for eating on Christmas Day.
Of course, you could make the cake earlier, bearing in mind that it keeps for up to 6 weeks, but I tend to make this only a week before Christmas because then I can eat it throughout January.
It isn’t a traditional rich, mature cake. It’s light and moist and you could easily eat it without adornment, but over the next two days, I’ll post on how to marzipan and ice it with least effort.
Some years it’s really nice to make your own Christmas Cake. I’ve had plenty of times when I just bought the best that Waitrose had to offer, and very nice it was too. It also meant three fewer things to do on my list. Other years I went the whole hog and made the cake in October and elaborately decorated it. You might guess those days were some time ago. Now, I prefer a lighter cake anyway and this cake will still take marzipan and icing so, for me, it’s the best of both worlds.
This quick Christmas Cake is a variation on a Luxury Fruit Cake that I make whenever I want a fruit cake for a special event like a birthday or a wedding. I just vary the fruit, alcohol, and flavouring to suit the occasion.
I based the cake on a River Cottage Dundee Cake recipe that I found in their Cakes Handbook. For a Dundee Cake, use sultanas, whisky and orange. For Christmas Cake, raisins, cherries, brandy, and mixed spice. In fact, you can use what you like. Just make up the quantities to the right amount.
And remember, if it’s Christmas Eve, it isn’t too late to make your cake.
Quick Christmas Cake
- 200 g glacé cherries
- 300 g raisins
- 75 ml brandy
- 50 g candied orange peel
- 2 unwaxed oranges, zested OR
- 2 teaspoons orange extract (10ml)
- 250 g light brown sugar
- 250 g butter
- 5 eggs
- 275 g plain/all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2.5ml)
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice (10ml)
- Pinch of salt
- 125 g ground almonds
- Wash, dry and halve the cherries
- 'Revive' the dried fruit:Put the cherries and raisins in a dish with the brandy. Heat in the microwave on MEDIUM for 3 minutes in total, stirring once or twice. Heat on HIGH for 30 seconds. Leave to stand for 30 minutes if possible
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/ gas mark 4/ 350°F
- Line the base of the tin with a parchment liner.Grease the sides (if it needs it) with butter paper (or a little butter on kitchen paper)Finely chop the candied peelZest the oranges, if using
For the cake:
- Put all the ingredients. except the fruit and peel, into a mixer or processor and mix well(Sugar, butter, eggs, plain flour, baking powder, spice, salt, ground almonds, orange zest or extract)
- Stir in the dried fruit and chopped candied peel and excess brandy
- Spoon into the cake tin and level the top with the back of the spoon. Make a slight depression in the middle to get a flatter top when it's cooked
- Cook for 1 hour and test with a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is done, otherwise cook for 10-15 minutes longerIf you need to cook the cook for longer than an hour, cover the top lightly with greasproof paper or foil to stop the top darkening too much
- Take the cake out of the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool
- If you aren't going to ice the cake immediately, leave the liner on, wrap it in baking parchment and put in an airtight container until you need it.
- Use any fruit or alcohol that you like to vary the flavour
- Storage: This Christmas Cake will keep for up to 6 weeks in an airtight tin.