It’s time to start baking the perfect ‘Sloaney Christmas Cake’
It is that time of year again! We have an everlasting recipe and method for baking the perfect Christmas Cake. Before you ask, November isn’t too early to start making it! Read on to find out why you should get going now…
By SARAH BACON
Although we are still in November, Christmas is fast-approaching. Whilst I want to avoid being over eager with the festive hype, there is one thing that requires urgent attention; it is time to bake your Christmas Cake. Fast-forward to December and picture yourself sitting by a roaring fire, with snowflakes falling outside (one can only hope), whilst enjoying a delicious treat to accompany your selection of Harrod’s Christmas Tea.
To get that treat just right, you need to start baking this weekend. The best Christmas Cake needs time to mature – and plenty of ‘feeding’ each week with quality brandy – in the run up to the festive season.
My late mother was the master at creating a moist and delicious Christmas Cake and it was always the high point of the holiday period. Whilst I believe the recipe originated from the Mrs. Beeton cookbook, I want to pass on all of my mother’s bespoke tips to readers of The Sloaney.
Firstly, you must give yourself two days; one for preparation and one for baking. The ingredients and instructions are listed below, but one key point to bear in mind is that you must de-stone the stoned currants. I know this sounds ridiculous but you will be amazed at how many small, very hard pips you will find. This is a long and tiresome process but well worth it in the end, as there is nothing worse than a “gritty” fruitcake.
You should measure out all of the ingredients the day before you bake and make sure that you soak the dried fruit, almonds and peel overnight in a good amount of Brandy. The cherries should be soaked in water instead, before being patted dry and cut into quarters, as this will remove the sticky sugary coating. Do not buy ready chopped candid peel; instead buy whole peel and cut it up. You should also try to find extra large sultanas, rather than just normal size. The butter (preferably unsalted) should be left out overnight, as it will be easier to deal with in the morning. Finally, make sure you prepare the cake tin by lining it well with greaseproof paper before you start baking.
These extra tips will help you make a sweet-tasting, soft and moist fruitcake that can be finished with beautiful snow white icing and decorated with Christmas characters.
So, this weekend you need to put your apron on, prepare all of the ingredients below and get baking the perfect ‘Sloaney Christmas Cake’….
8” Cake / 12” Cake
284 / 425 Plain flour
1 / 1.5 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 / 1.5 level teaspoon salt
226 / 340 butter
226 / 340 soft brown sugar
4 / 6 large eggs
1 / 1.5 tablespoon black treacle
1 / 1.5 teaspoon vanilla essence
113 / 170 glace cherries
226 / 340 currants
226 /340 sultanas
226/ 340 seedless raisins
113 / 170 chopped candid peel
57 / 85 chopped blanched almonds
2 / 3 tablespoons brandy
Sieve together flour/spice and salt
Cream the butter and the sugar until very soft and light
Lightly mix the eggs treacle and vanilla essence together
Rinse the cherries in warm water to remove outer sugary coating pat dry and cut into quarters
Mix with the currants/sultanas/raisins/peel and almonds
Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and mix well
Gradually beat the egg/treacle mixture into the butter and sugar a little at a time
Add some of the flour along with the last few additions of egg
Using a metal spoon fold in the remaining flour half at a time then the fruit mixture soaked in the brandy
Spoon into a greased and lined 8” / 12” cake tin and hollow out the middle
Bake in slow oven 275f / 135C / Gas 2 for 4.5 hours
If you are lucky enough to have an Aga then place the blind shelf at the top of the simmering oven (bottom oven) the night before to cool the oven and cook for approx 6hrs.
If the cake is browning too quickly then cover with greaseproof paper
Try not to open the oven door too often or too soon as this may make the cake collapse
The cake should be nicely raised and browned all over and if you put a skewer into the middle it should come out clean
Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely
Once cooled prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 – 3 tbsp brandy
This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas