He’s finally lost it. It’s far too late in the year to make the Christmas cake. That’s what you’re thinking. But it’s never too late. There’s always a way. My Simple Christmas Cake recipe proves that; it’s one of the most enjoyable I’ve had and can be made only days before the year’s main event. No. I challenge you to make it only days before.
Traditional Christmas cake can be such a bore. Even if you do have a recipe that yields a genuinely enjoyable article, it’s likely required extensive preparation, perspiration and at least a modicum of perseverance. Ok, so they’re not all that troubling, but they do elicit a certain pain in the posterior. Instead, opt for an easy Christmas cake. If you have time you can still feed it and nurture it. But if there’s no time, you don’t have to.
The best thing about a simple Christmas cake is that its method naturally produces a perfectly moist fruit cake. Essentially an all-in-one cake, this recipe naturally turns out a moister cake than the traditional creaming approach. Add to that delightfully hefty additions of cream sherry – my preferred Christmas cake tipple – and freshly squeezed orange juice and you can see where things are going. Easy, rich and moist.
You may also have noticed my cake’s distinct lack of marzipan and icing. It always seems a shame to cover the impressively deep flavour of a festive fruit cake with super-saccharine shenanigans. Don’t bow to the weight of familial expectation. Stand firm in the knowledge that your Christmas cake – however easy it was to make – will hold its own.
Simple Christmas Cake
Makes one 23cm cake
- 1kg mixed dried fruit, whatever you like
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 150ml cream sherry
- 250g butter, in chunks
- 200g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 100g ground almonds
- 4 eggs
- 200g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- Grease and line a round 23cm springform baking tin. Tie a separate double layer of baking parchment around the outside of the tin for insulation. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C(fan).
- Tip the dried fruit, orange juice and zest, and cream sherry into your largest saucepan. Heat over a low heat before adding the butter in chunks, sugar and dark treacle.
- Once the butter has melted, stir in the ground almonds. Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 minutes.
- Incorporate the eggs into the cake mixture one by one. Fold through the plain flour, baking powder and mixed spice.
- Transfer the prepared batter to the lined baking tin and bake for 2 hours until browned, slightly cracked and ever so slightly sticky in the middle.
- Allow the cake to cool fully on a wire rack before turning out. Wrap up in baking parchment and foil until Christmas or decoration. It should keep well for 2-3 months.
Cost: Christmas cake isn’t the cheapest cake going and the cost of yours will largely depend on the sherry and dried fruit you use. I’d suggest that better quality fruit is a better investment than expensive sherry. Besides, even cheap cream sherry is relatively palatable.
All in all, following this recipe you should quite easily be able to produce a simple Christmas cake for as little as £7. Not bad, considering its size; no need for a turkey dinner.