Christmas Cake Baking Tips
Christmas Cakes Are Easy
There's nothing difficult about baking a perfect Christmas cake - if you know how. I've put together a few tips here, along with a great traditional recipe that will make for a successful celebration.
Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions need special cakes, and a rich fruit cake is often the traditional center piece of the celebration table.
Best Ever Traditional Christmas Cake Recipe
I've used this traditional recipe for years. Read the tips below to make it the best fruit cake ever.
500 grms sultanas
300 grms currants
175 grms seedless raisins
1/4 cup marmalade
150 grms mixed peel
Grated zest of 2 oranges
120 ml brandy
Blanched almonds for decoration
300 grms plain flour
1/2 teas grated nutmeg
1/2 teas mixed spice
1/2 teas salt
220 grms unsalted butter - softened
200 grms soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
Glace cherries for decoration
1. Mix the dried fruit and orange zest together in a glass or china bowl.
2.Pour the brandy over and mix again.
3.Cover the bowl and leave for at least 24 hours, turning mixture occasionally.
4.Preheat oven to 140 degrees C (275 F).
5. Grease and line a 24cm round cake tin - see Tip#2 below.
7. Sift flour, spices and salt.
8. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
9. Beat eggs in a separate bowl then mix very gradually into the creamed mixture.
10. Gently fold in the spiced flour, then fold in the dried fruit mixture.
11. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
12. Decorate the top with blanched almonds and glace cherries or leave clear for icing.
13. Bake for about 3 hours.
14. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean when the cake is cooked.
15. Cool the cake in the tin for 30 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
To store, wrap the cake in several layers of greaseproof paper, then wrap in foil and store in an air-tight tin.
Here's a link to a handy cooking weights conversion chart.
Tip #1: Buy The Best Ingredients
This is a once-a-year cake so now is not the time to skimp on ingredients. The dried fruit should be plump and juicy and the raisins must be seedless. Raisins can make a cake taste gritty if they contain seeds.
My family don't like mixed peel so I've been forced to leave this out of the ingredients in my cake.
If you do decide not to include some of the fruit because it's either not available or not acceptable, make sure you adjust the quantities by adding more of something else. For example, less currants so more raisins.
Tip #2: Line the Pan
Make a thick cardboard lining for the baking pan
Here's how it's done.
Grease the cake pan and line it as follows:
First cut a circle to fit the base of the cake pan from a cardboard cereal packet or something similar.
Next, cut long strips to line the side of the pan.
When that's done, do the same with a couple of layers of baking paper.
This protective lining will stop the cake burning and keep it from drying out on the sides.
Tip #3 Keep it Moist - Here's a really important tip
When the cake is all set to go in the preheated oven, pour water into the bottom of a baking dish and place it on the rack below the cake. This little trick will keep the cake moist through the cooking process and ensure it doesn't turn out dry and crumbly. Ugh!
Tip #4 Take it Slow - Don't let the fruit burn
Dried fruit has a tendency to burn if it's baked at too high a temperature so make sure the oven stays at 140 degrees C (275 F) as in the recipe.
Burnt fruit cake leaves a nasty taste in the mouth so it's necessary to avoid this at all costs.
Choose A Great Plate
I like to put my cake on a stand similar to this one in the center of the table. After a heavy meal and Christmas pudding not too many of us are tempted to try the cake so it really is a display piece on Christmas Day. But it doesn't take long to disappear during the following holiday week.
This vintage Christmas card and others like it can be downloaded for FREE from Vintage Holiday Cards
Tips On How To Decorate Your Cake - How to get a professional finish with fondant
Traditionally Christmas cakes are first covered with almond paste (marzipan) and then a fondant or royal icing is placed over that. I love almond paste but many in my family don't so they peel it off before eating!
Before draping the cake with fondant you should moisten the surface with sugar syrup made from marmalade or jam and hot water. This will seal the icing to the cake.
Christmas Animated Snow Village
Here's the perfect little Christmas gadget to set the scene - a snow village and a train set combined - all in hand painted ceramics.