Sunday, 2 December 2007

Christmas Cake, Nigella Style

As I neglected the blog last week while participating in social occasions (the ballet, a bag party and also a tummy bug) there's a good few posts coming in the next week, mostly around the christmas baking I've done thus far so ho ho ho and all that.

This cake is from one of my all time favourite baking books, How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson, I have made so many things out of this book and they never fail to turn out looking and tasting amazing.

I have never made a Christmas cake before this one and it's my baby, I am SO SO happy with it, it looks good, it didn't burn and smells drinkalicious!!!

So here's what you need for a 23cm round (20cm square) cake tin

  • 700g sultanas
  • 225g raisins
  • 110g currants
  • 110g glace cherries
  • 110g mixed peel
  • 120ml brandy or sherry
  • 225g butter
  • 195g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 4 medium eggs and 1 extra yolk (the original recipe uses 4 lrg eggs)
  • 2 tsp honey (the original recipe uses marmalade but I forgot to buy this so honey seemed a better option than blackcurrant jam!)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • pinch of salt

I used dried fruit from out local fruit shop, I have never seen it in there before and was very happy I didn't have to use anything from bags but if you're making this the end result will be just the same I'm sure as my mammy (Domestic Goddess extraordinaire) never used anything but bagged fruit when I was growing up and the cake was always gorgeous.

Put the fruit into a large bowl and soak in the brandy or sherry overnight.

The next day, heat the oven to Gas mark 2 or 150C. Line the tin with a double thickness of buttered baking parchment and then outside the tin a double thickness of brown paper, this should come up above the tin about the same depth as the tin itself. Nigella's recipe uses brown paper and then baking parchment inside the tin but I grew up doing it with the parchment on the inside and the brown paper outside the tin and it worked out just fine.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar and then beat in the lemon and orange zest.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after you add each one, then add the honey or marmalade. I added my salt in at this stage and the almond essence aswell.
  • Sift the flour and spices together and add to the fruit. Mix really well so everything is combined and there's no pockets of flour left or uncoated fruit
Pour your mixture into the prepared, buttered cake tin and bake for 3-3 1/2 hours or until a skewer (read butter knife here as I had no skewers) comes out clean.

When the cake comes out, brush a couple of spoons of extra brandy over the top of the cake and wrap in it's tin immediately - this will trap heat and form steam and keep the top of the cake soft on the top. When the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin and rewrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store.

Now, I haven't made any move to ice the cake yet but am going to top the cake following a different recipe for Certosino from the same book. This involves putting aprocot jam all over the top of the cake, then covereing it completely with dried fruits and nuts and glazing it with the remainder of the apricot jam so it looks all shiny and pretty, I will update the post at that stage

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Anonymous said...

Excellent recipe. One tip I have, that my family has been doing for awhile now, with honey is
that you try different varieties each time you make the recipe so it never wears out.
Our favorite place to buy honey is from
Holy Food Imports

Anonymous said...

Hi just wanted to ask if the extra brown paper and parchment paper should be covering the cake surface when it's being bake. I'm not too clear. Thanks. Lugubres

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Hi Anon, in terms of baking the cake the brown paper and parchment should only be on the sides of the tin up above the edge of the tin by a few inches, when the cake is out of the the oven cover it completely in tin foil so it steams and makes it moist and lovely and the top soft. Then when it's fully cold store it wrapped in parchment and then foil. hope this helps but if you have any more questions please mail me at