It’s October and that means one thing in my house, it’s Christmas cake time. For those who know me, know I am ‘Mad About Christmas’ and love festive baking and although many think October is too early to think about Christmas, it is the best time to bake your Christmas cake. Especially as a good fruit cake needs time to be fed (see further about feeding).
I did once bake a Christmas cake in August and fed it with brandy every two weeks. It was lovely but my goodness, you could drunk on the smallest slice.
Also, I promise a better photo soon!
Can you bake your cake later?
Yes, you can bake the cake today and eat it straight away but a good fruit cake should be matured.
What alcohol should I use?
I prefer sherry because that is what I have always used but you can use brandy instead.
Can I bake this alcohol-free?
I have often baked Christmas cakes for the care home my sister lives at. Instead of alcohol, I soak the fruit in breakfast tea.
How do you decorate your Christmas cake?
I have a sweet tooth! I love marzipan and Icing. A week before Christmas Eve, I brush the cake with heated apricot jam and cover with ready rolled marzipan. The day before Christmas Eve, I ice the cake. The type of icing I use, whether royal icing or ready roll fondant depends on my design.
My dad loves fruit cake and I often bake this recipe for his birthday in February but I decorate it differently. I glaze the top with apricot jam and decorate with whole nuts and cherries (photo coming soon).
Feeding your Christmas cake
I mentioned earlier in the article about feeding. This is where you spoon over 1 tbsp of brandy or sherry every two weeks. This helps keep the cake moist and matures it. I also use it as a good countdown too.
Equipment I use
The below list is of the equipment I use. The links take you to Amazon where you can purchase them.
Gluten-free Christmas Cake
- 1 kg dried mixed fruit and peel
- 150 ml Brandy or sherry I use sweet sherry
- 2 oranges zest and juice
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 100 g glace cherries cut in half
- 200 g dark brown sugar
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 4 large free range eggs
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 200 g gluten-free plain flour
- 50 g ground almonds
- 50 g whole almonds flaked if you don't like whole nuts
The Day Before
- Place the dried fruit, cherries, orange zest & juice and soak in a large mixing bowl with the brandy or sherry. Do this for 24 hours and stir every three.
Final prep before making the cake
- Firstly Preheat the oven to 150'C / 130'C Fan / Gas Mark 2.
- Now double line the cake tin with greaseproof paper. By double lining you reduce the risk of burning. I always grease the side of the tin with butter to help hold the paper up.
No lets make the cake batter
- In a separate mixing bowl, add the butter, treacle and sugar. Mix with an electric mixer. Then beat in one egg at a time. The cake batter may look split but this is nothing to worry about.
- Sift in the flour and mix in the ground almonds, whole or flaked almonds and spices.
- Pour in the soaked fruit and stir in until combined. It will look a lot of fruit but its worth it.
Bake the cake
- Pour the cake batter into the lined tin and cover the top of the cake. Bake for 3hours and remove the the top cover. Bake for a further 30minutes. Check to see if the cake is cooked by inserting a knife. No batter should come out and the knife clean. (some smears may appear from the fruit). If you require to bake further, check every 15 minutes.
- Allow to fully cool down, wrap in foil and store in an airtight tin. Every two weeks unwrap the cake and pour over a tablespoon of brandy or sherry. this is called feeding the cake.