A good Christmas Cake should have a great selection of fruits, and just the right hint and combination of spices. It must be nicely baked without being stodgy or too dry. A good Christmas Cake will be remembered long after the last bauble and decoration is packed away in the New Year.
I kept this Christmas cake recipe to myself until now, saving it away on a file for future reference. I had a half notion of making Celebration Cakes for sale using this tried and trusted family recipe. As I was revising The Original Irish Recipe Book adding contemporary Northern Irish favourites, I was asked for a good Christmas cake recipe by someone who has helped me out a lot in the past with research. It would have been mean of me not to unearth this recipe, and I decided to add it to the book and share it here as a book extract too.
Even though this is a lovely rich fruit cake it’s made with Summer County margarine, a great saving with the soaring cost of butter at the moment.
If you can’t find Summer County margarine, any soft cake margarine with a fat content of 55% or so will be fine. (Don’t go any lighter than 55 % fat).
Mum always made 4 of these cakes early in November, and kept 2 for ourselves.
She greased and lined the tins the day before. The first cake was always cut into well before Christmas as we just couldn’t wait to sample it.
Lining a Christmas Cake Tin
Christmas Cake must be carefully baked in a slow oven, in a well-lined tin to avoid burning the edges or base.
Line base of tin with 1 layer of brown paper and 3 layers of greaseproof paper. Let the paper come to 5 cm / 2 inches above the top of the tin when lining walls of tin inside. Line outside of tin with 2 layers of brown paper.
A layer of Almond Icing topped with a simple stippled Royal Icing are easy to add to set off your homemade Christmas cake, or if you’re short of time just buy them readymade in the supermarket. A glittery foil cake frill and a few little Christmas decorations perched in the snow give a nostalgic look to the cake, reminding one of Christmas seasons all the way back to childhood years.
This is a quick n easy Christmas Cake recipe, as the fruit doesn’t have to be steeped the night before. The soft margarine makes it easier to cream with the sugar, and also saves money compared to a recipe which calls for butter.
When To Make Christmas Cake
Early November is the perfect time to make this Christmas cake, though it will still be fine if not made until later in the month. Feeding it with brandy 3 times before leaving it to mature helps preserve the cake and keeps it from drying out.