19th December 2012
I had already made a few things to give away as presents this Christmas – sloe gin, redcurrant cordial and some pear & cranberry sauce, but decided a good present to go with the other things I had bought for my parents would be a tiny Christmas cake, just enough for the two of them. I’m always giving them slices of our cake as it seems to last forever as after the initial few days of eating it, everybody gets bored and wants something different. Hopefully this will not be the case this year, as I have made a much smaller cake than usual!
Looking through the recipe the ingredients were nearly the same as for the larger Christmas cake I made last month.
The fruit had to be soaked in the brandy overnight, so the cherries were cut into quarters, washed and dried and then put in a bowl together with the raisins, sultanas, currants, dried apricots (which has been snipped into small pieces with scissors) and the candied peel. A couple of teaspoons of brandy were spooned over the top and stirred in. This was covered with clingfilm and put to one side.
24 hours later I was ready to make the cakes. Mary suggests using 3 empty small baked bean tins or similar. I didn’t have any of these, so instead I decided to use the really tiny loaf tins that I had bought a few weeks ago. These nearly turned out to be very expensive loaf tins, as when I went to pay for them in Lakeland the lady put through the till 4 loaf tins. I did have four tins, but they were packed together as one item. I queried my bill as it was nearly £30 more than I had thought it should have been and it took some explaining to the lady that the tins were in fact only one purchase (as they were wrapped together) and not four! Eventually she realised her mistake and my bill was substantially reduced. I do wonder, however, how many other people had paid nearly £40.00 for four tiny loaf tins!
Anyway, the tins were slightly bigger than the three baked bean tins Mary suggested, so I greased and lined both the base and sides of two of them. I thought these would be a good size cake to make for my parents. The oven was also put on to preheat at this point.
Into a bigger bowl (but not too big, these cakes were tiny) went the chopped and ground almonds, lemon rind, plain flour, mixed spice, dark muscovado sugar, butter and one egg. These were mixed together and then beaten thoroughly with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until the mixture was lovely and smooth. The fruit that had been soaking in the brandy was then added, together with the small amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl and this was stirred through.
The mixture was spooned into the two tins and spread out evenly. There was just enough mixture for two cakes. The tops were very lightly scattered with flaked almonds, although I must admit I was going to omit these as I intended on icing the cakes, but reading through the recipe, Mary also ices the cakes, so I did as she said and sprinkled the top with the almonds.
The cakes were then popped into the oven for an hour. After an hour they were not quite ready and as these cakes were slightly bigger than the ones Mary suggests making in her recipe, they did in fact take another 30 minutes before I was happy that they were cooked through completely.
The cakes were allowed to cool in the tin and then before turning them out I pricked them all over with a small skewer and drizzled a little more brandy over the top of them. Once removed from the tins, they were wrapped in baking parchment and stored awaiting to be marzipaned and iced.
It was actually Christmas Eve before I got round to marzipaning and icing the cake. I know I should have marzipaned the cake beforehand but you know how it is at Christmas and in the end I only had one cake to do as my daughter had eaten most of the other little cake! The cakes themselves were easy to marzipan and ice, it was a case of rolling the marzipan or icing out and using the top of the loaf tin as a template, cut around this and then place on the top (having brushed the surface of the cake with melted apricot jam before putting the marzipan on). I decided only to decorate the top as I know my dad isn’t too keen on marzipan or icing.
Once iced I used some green icing to make the holly leaves with and some red icing for the berries. To finish it off the cake was popped into a Christmas bag and tied with a red ribbon.
This was given to my parents on Christmas Day and they were delighted with it.