The last of the Christmas cakes and there’s a picture too with this recipe in the book! This is, as the heading say,s a traditional ‘Victorian Christmas Cake’ the type that doesn’t have any icing on top, but instead is decorated with fruit and nuts. As my parents aren’t too keen on an iced cake, I decided to make this for them, but reading the first paragraph I realised it would be far too big for the two of them as it was to be baked in a deep 23cm (9″) round cake tin. Instead I decided to bake it in two smaller tins.
The oven was put on to preheat at Fan 140°C and the two tins were greased and the base and sides double lined with baking parchment.
The first part of the recipe was the preparation of the fruit, which took far longer than I thought. 350g cherries were weighed out and cut into halves (Mary does say quarters, but personally I think this is too small), they were then put into a sieve and rinsed under cold water to wash the lovely sticky syrup off them. Next a 225g can of pineapple (in natural juices) was drained and the pineapple roughly chopped. The cherries and pineapple were then dried using kitchen paper. It was quite difficult to ‘dry’ the pineapple pieces as they were so juicy. These were put into a mixing bowl to which I added 350g ready-to-eat apricots which had been snipped into small pieces using scissors. My bowl was already filling up quickly and I did think I wouldn’t have enough room for the rest of the fruit but I carried on…
100g blanched almonds were the next ingredient to be added once they had been roughly chopped, together with 350g sultanas and the finely grated rind of 2 lemons. These were gently mixed together and it was gently as the mixture came up to the top of my mixing bowl.
It was time for the second stage into another bowl (this time my biggest mixing bowl) I weighed out 250g self-raising flour, 250g caster sugar, 250g softened butter, 75g ground almonds and 5 large eggs. Using my electric hand mixer this was all beaten together for about a minute until it was nice and smooth. The fruit and nuts were tipped into the bowl and lightly folded in.
I divided the mixture into the two tins and levelled the tops. One I left plain as I would marzipan and ice this for us to have at Christmas, but the other I decorated with halved cherries and blanched almonds. Mary does say to use glacé pineapple (which you can get from Health Food shops) too, but I hadn’t bought any of this and as my cake was a lot smaller than the one Mary bakes, I think it would have filed the top up too much.
If you do make one large 23cm (9″) cake then it is to be baked in the oven for about 2 1/4 hours until it was a pale golden brown. If the cake does begin to brown too quickly on top then you can cover it loosely with foil after about an hour. The two smaller cakes took around 2 hours to cook in total as they were quite deep. You can test to see if they are done using a metal skewer inserted into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean then they are cooked if it’s a little sticky then they need a bit longer.
Once out of the oven, leave them to cool for 30 minutes in the tin and then turn them out, peel of the parchment and finish cooling them on a wire rack. Just before serving mix 100g sifted icing sugar with a little water and drizzle it over the top.
I haven’t tasted the cake yet as I’m going to keep it for Christmas so I’ll update this once I’ve cut into it!