Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wilkinson Family Christmas Cake 2009

The last Sunday before Advent is traditionally known as 'Stir Up Sunday' whereby families return from church to stir sumptuous mixtures for Christmas puddings and cakes and make a wish for the New Year.  I'm not sure what making wishes has to do with organised religion, however, who am I to argue with hundreds of years of tradition.  And so this weekend sees me soaking dried fruits in brandy and grating nutmeg in readiness to bake the Wilkinson family Christmas cake.

As with the family fruit cake, the original recipe was I believe from Saint Delia, tweaked by my mother and has subsequently been jiggled with by yours truly.  Ensure that you have an afternoon or evening spare to stay at home as it's quite a lengthy process.  But hopefully well worth it.  Here is the recipe for this year's;

Wilkinson Family Christmas Cake
1lb 14oz mixed dried fruit (I used a mixture that included candied peel)
2oz glace cherries
100ml brandy
8oz plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2tsp ground mixed spice
8oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
8oz soft brown/muscavado sugar
4 medium eggs
2oz blanched, lightly toasted almonds, roughly chopped
3tbsp thick cut marmalade
grated zest 1 unwaxed lemon
pared zest 1 unwaxed orange

8inch round cake tin, double lined and greased with a double layer of baking parchment around the outside of the tin, tied with string (see picture)

1. The night before you are going to bake, weigh out the dried fruit into a non metallic bowl, stir in the brandy, cover with a clean cloth and leave for 12 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 140C/gas mark 1.
3. Sift the flour, salt and spices.
4. Cream the butter and sugar until it is fluffy.
5. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the creamed butter at tablespoon at a time, stirring in a spoon of flour at the same time to avoid the mixture curdling.
6. Fold in the remainder flour then fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts, marmalade and fruit zests.
7. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and cover the top of the cake with a piece of greaseproof paper, leaving a hole the size of a 50 pence (this prevents the cake from burning).
8. Bake on the lowest shelf in the oven for a minimum of 4.5 hours.  It can take up to 45 minutes longer depending on your oven, dried fruit used etc so rely on the good old skewer test (insert a skewer - if it is clean upon removal, the cake is ready). Whatever happens, don't open the oven door for a peak until at least four hours are up!
9. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.  Remove the top paper, make a few small holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle in a little brandy.
10. When cool, wrap the cake in clean baking parchment, then foil and keep in an airtight tin.  'Feed' the cake with a spoon or three of brandy every few days.  The cake will keep for up to two months like this.

I have not posted a picture of the finished article as I'm aware that it will look remarkably similar to my previous post.  When it is suitably adorned with marzipan and icing in December (for the Wilkinson early Christmas) I'll pop an image up then.

Happy Christmas baking!

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