Christmas Fruit Cake

I’ve returned to the world of baking this week. I’ve found it keeps my son (22 months old) entertained and gives me a chance to do something I enjoy (to help me keep me sane with 2 kids under 2). One of the first things on my list was my traditional Christmas cake. I’m not always a big fan of fruit cakes, but for some reason, I love it at Christmas time. It also doubles as my Christmas pudding – I heat it up in the microwave and serve it with custard. Yum!

The recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s in How to be a Domestic Goddess. Get the full recipe here:
700g (24oz/1lb 9oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) raisins
110g (4oz) currants
110g (4oz) glace cherries
110g (4oz) mixed peel
120ml (4fl oz) sherry or brandy
225g (8oz) butter (at room temperature)
195g (7oz) brown sugar
4 eggs
350g (12oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspooon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
110g (4oz) walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon almond essence

Note: You can mix and match the dried fruit ratios to suit what you have on hand and your own particular tastes. I’m guilty of sneaking in as many glace cherries as I can.

1.  Place fruit in a large bowl and add brandy or sherry. Cover and let the fruit soak overnight.
2.  Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
3.  Line a 20cm (8inch) square baking tin with brown paper and then baking paper, both coming up about 10cm above the pan.
4.  Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5.  Sift the flour and spices together in a separate bowl (yes, this recipes uses every bowl in my house!)
6.  Mix the fruit alternately with the flour into the creamed mixture.
7.  Add the walnuts and almond essence and mix well (by now, your arm should be ready to drop off!)
8.  Put the cake mixture in the prepared tin and bake for 3-3 1/2 hours , until a cake tester (or skewer) comes out clean.
9.  Brush extra sherry or brandy over the cake and wrap the cake and tin in foil.
10.  When the cake has cooled, remove from tin an wrap in foil. Store in an air-tight container for a couple of weeks (if possible!) before eating.

My cake is sleeping in its foil. I’ll update this post with pictures when we eat it at Christmas! Please don’t expect a full decorated affair – we just eat it plain and simple.

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