Tag: fruit cake

A drunken Fruit Cake

Christmas Cake

I love fruit cakes – all year round. Every day in the afternoon, I have my cup of tea and I need something to nibble with it. Cookies are great but fruit cakes are richer. Quite often I bake my Irish tea brack (a butter free fruit cake) with ginger and orange but at Christmas time I follow the English tradition.

English Christmas cake is a very dense and rich fruit cake which has to sit for a few weeks. During this time it is your job to take care that the cake can soak some brandy and get drunk. Therefore, you brush its top with liquor once a week and then you wrap it up again. It is a bit like a plant that you have to look after. But your effort will be rewarded. You have taken real care of this special cake and that makes it taste even better.

My Christmas cake lets the spices come through quite strongly and I also add stem ginger and marmelade. I like it when fruit cakes have a very intense taste. When its time has come around Christmas day I cut thick slices of the heavy cake and spread on some butter. I will sit next to our Christmas tree with a cup of tea or mulled wine and just enjoy every buttered, fruity bite!

Traditionally this cake gets some fancy decoration with marzipan and fondant but I leave it naked. I love its rustic look. You can also put some icing sugar on top if you feel like. But you should give it at least 3 weeks to sit so it is time to start now to be able to enjoy it on Christmas day.

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake

It is best to let the fruit soak overnight together with the sugar, zest and brandy.

raisins 350g / 12.5 ounces
currants 50g / 2 ounces
prunes, finely chopped, 140g / 5 ounces
stem ginger, finely chopped, 50g / 2 ounces
candied peel, chopped, 40g / 1.5 ounce
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1/2 lemon
brandy  70ml plus more for brushing the cake

– Cover and let the mixture soak for a few hours or overnight –

butter, soft, 120g / 4 ounces
marmalade 1 1/2 tablespoons
organic eggs  2
plain flour 230g / 8 ounces
mixed spice 1 1/2 teaspoons
cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
a pinch of salt

For this recipe you will need a 17,5cm/ 7″ round cake tin, baking parchment and brown paper. You can also work with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 140°C/ 285°F and line your tin with double brown paper and a layer of baking parchment on the inside so that you have three layers, all to come straight up around 10cm / 4″ above the top of your cake tin.

Cream the butter and marmalade till fluffy and add the eggs one at a time, still beating well. Mix the dry ingredients together (flour and spices). Now fold the dry ingredients alternately with the soaked fruit mixture into the butter mixture, roughly 1/3 of each – dry and fruit – mixture at a time. Mix carefully with a spoon.

Scrape the cake mixture into your prepared tin, smooth the surface a bit and bake for 2 hours. Check with a skewer if it comes out clean it is done. Take your cake out of the oven but leave it still in its tin. Push your parchment paper construction down a bit and wrap the tin with the cake in aluminum foil immediately and let it cool. After a few hours you can remove it from its tin, rewrap it in paper and foil and store it in an airtight cake tin. Brush the cake with brandy once a week and look forward to your first bite!

Stir-up Sunday and a Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Following the British tradition!

A few years ago, I moved to the North of England and spent the winter in a beautiful fairy tale, fisherman’s village called Whitby. It was one of the best times in my life, which brought me also closer to the wonderful English baking tradition. My trips to Botham’s, the village bakery, were very frequent  – it’s a must visit for everyone who loves and appreciates traditional craft bakeries. I still order my Shah Ginger Biscuits and bracks from there whenever I feel like a nostalgic taste of Whitby.

Today, it’s time for the famous English Christmas pudding as it’s my Stir-up Sunday! Traditionally, the pudding is made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity (I am a week late) and served and eaten on the 25th of December. The presentation is quite spectacular as it involves flambéing which guarantees excitement at the table.

 Christmas Pudding

For the pudding you will need a 1.5 liter pudding basin with a lid. It is important that the fruit soak overnight before you get started and, traditionally, you mix silver coins into the pudding mixture as lucky charms.

raisins 175g / 6 ounces
currants 80g / 3 ounces
prunes, roughly chopped 80g / 3 ounces
candied peel 30g / 1 ounce
orange, zest and juice, 1
sugar 100g / 3.5ounces
brandy 100ml

Mix the fruits together with the sugar and brandy and let them soak overnight.

vegetable shortening 120g / 4 ounces
organic eggs, beaten, 3
sour baking apple, grated, 1
plain flour 60g / 2 ounces
bread crumbs 60g / 2 ounces
baking powder, 1 scant teaspoon
a pinch of salt
mixed spice 2 teaspoons
(or prepare your own spice mixture:
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
coriander seeds, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
allspice, ground in a mortar, 7 berries
cloves, ground in a mortar, 7
ground mace or nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
grated fresh ginger 1/4 teaspoon)

rum about 2 shots, to flambé the pudding

Butter the pudding basin well. Prepare a parchment paper with a single pleat folded along the center from one side to the other.

Fill a large pot with water, cover and bring the water to the boil. The pot should be big enough for the water to come up 2/3 of the pudding basin.

In a large bowl, mix the vegetable shortening and eggs with an electric mixer. Add the apple, flour, bread crumbs, baking powder, spices and salt and mix until combined. Stir in the soaked fruits and fill the dough into the buttered pudding basin, cover the basin with the prepared parchment paper with the pleat right across and close with the lid. If you prefer, prepare a handle made of string like I did in the picture to be able to get the pudding basin out a bit easier.

Put the pudding basin in the pot with the hot water, cover and cook for 3 1/2 hours (simmering). Let the pudding cool without opening the lid. Remove the parchment paper, wrap the pudding in cling film and store in the closed pudding basin until Christmas.

On Christmas day, repeat this procedure including the parchment paper with the pleat and cook for 3 1/2 hours again.

Place the pudding on a plate. Pour the rum into a sauce pan, light it and pour over the pudding to present it in all its glory!

Christmas Pudding