Stir-up Sunday (the last Sunday before the start of Advent) is one of the quintessentially British Christmas traditions where the family gets together to make their Christmas pudding, and all get a chance to stir the mixture and make a wish. It’s a great day to get started on your Christmas baking, and I thought I would share my go-to recipe for making my Christmas cake.
I haven’t baked a Christmas fruit cake for a few years now, and I think this year it is high time I made one again! I really do love to make and decorate cakes, but somehow I don’t find the time, or, as it has been for a long time now, all of my baking equipment is still packed away in boxes…oh for that new kitchen to be built…
I plan to make this exact cake on Stir-up Sunday this weekend, when I’ll be able to take step-by-step photos to share!
This recipe is for an 8″ (20cm) round cake tin.
To prepare your cake tin for the long cooking process, you will need to double line it. Place double thickness of baking paper into the bottom of the tin. Double over a length of baking paper and line the insides of the tin – you want it to be about 1″ (2.5cm) higher than the sides of the tin. Take a length of brown paper to fit around your tin and fold in half to double thickness. Wrap this around the outside of the tin and secure with string.
Place your prepared cake tin on a baking sheet that has been lined with 3 or 4 sheets of brown paper.
This may all seem like overkill but it will help to keep the cake from being burned!
Prepare the fruit and nuts the day before you start baking by soaking in the alcohol. Up to 24 hours is the best!
- 250g raisins
- 250g sultanas
- 155g currants
- 125g dried apricots, chopped
- 150g glacé cherries, quartered
- 60g mixed peel, chopped
- 60g mixed chopped nuts
- 2 tsps lemon zest
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 3 tbsps brandy (or whisky or sherry or rum)
- 280g plain flour
- 3 tsps ground mixed spice
- 60g ground almonds
- 220g soft dark brown sugar
- 220g butter, softened
- 1½ tbsps black treacle
- 4 medium eggs
- Extra brandy (or whisky or sherry or rum) to feed the cake
- Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, apricots, cherries, mixed peel, mixed nuts and lemon zest into a large bowl.
- Add the lemon juice and alcohol and stir everything together until well mixed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 24 hours to infuse.
- When you are ready to bake your cake, preheat the oven to 140C/Gas 1.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, mixed spice, sugar, butter, treacle and eggs until smooth and glossy.
- Gently fold all of the booze soaked fruit and nuts into the cake mixture until evenly distributed.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Bang the tin to remove any air pockets and make a depression in the middle of the cake with the back of a spoon.
- After 2 hours and 15 minutes of cooking time, check to see if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle. It should come out clean. if not, retest every 15 minutes. Up to 3 hours total cooking time may be necessary.
- Leave to cool in the tin.
- When cool, remove from the tin, but leave the baking paper wrapped around it – this helps to keep the cake moist.
- Before getting ready to store your cake for a 2 or 3 weeks before decorating; poke a couple of holes in the top with a skewer and “feed” alcohol into these holes – about a tablespoon should be enough. I do this every 5 days! It’s up to you!
- Wrap the cake in a double thickness of of foil and store in a cool, dry place on its base.
- Always wrap the cake well after feeding it!