Top tips for baking and decorating your Christmas Cake
Nothing screams Christmas is coming more than a bowl full of plump alcohol sodden fruit headed for the oven.
If the thought of baking your own Christmas Cake is a bit daunting, then fear not because I’ve got Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry up my sleeve to help.
Alice’s simple tips and fabulous recipe mean that this year you be eating your own cake on Christmas Day!
Vintage afternoon tea is what we are normally all about – fresh baked scones with jam and clotted cream, layer cakes, strawberry shortcakes and tray-bakes, all served on gorgeous vintage china.
But at this time of year we turn our hand to lots and lots of dried fruit, brandy by the jug full, white icing and red ribbons – yep its Christmas Cake time!
The smell of brandy soaked fruit will be hanging around our ovens for a while – we just love it!
It’s a busy time of year, but it’s well worth finding the time to bake your own, and it can be a much more straight forward task than you think. Follow our tips and ideas below to keep it simple.
And if baking and decorating your own is really not for you, we can always bake one for you! Get in touch to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org
So a few baking tips that are a must for Christmas Cakes:
- Use a good quality deep baking tin.
- Make sure you double line the tin and then wrap the outside in a double layer of newspaper tied with string.
- Use a mix of dried fruits – don’t just stick to the raisins, sultanas and currants you might have in your cupboard, try cherries, ginger, prunes and figs.
- If you don’t want to use alcohol, soak your fruit in Earl Grey tea and pour two tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice over the top once baked.
- Christmas cakes bake in the oven for a long time – as tempting as it is, make sure you don’t open the oven door until at least ¾ of the way through baking
Decorating your cake – some ideas to keep it simple:
The basics of decorating your cake are really very basic. Just get yourself some ready-made marzipan and ready-made fondant icing.
Start by laying the marzipan over the cake, brush with brandy and then over-lay the fondant. Use your hands to smooth the edges (we use a cake decorator’s tool to do this, but hands are fine for a home-made look).
Now you need to decide how to decorate it. At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we have come up with five different Christmas cake designs, each requires more specialist equipment and takes time.
But here we have come up with a few different ideas that keep the decoration simple so that anyone can do it at home.
- Tie a red or gold ribbon around the cake and top with a bit of holly (remove before you eat!)
- Use a small star shape cutter to cut out some fondant stars. Lay around the edge of the cake and sprinkle some edible sparkle over them.
- Buy yourself some Christmas figurines – there are loads available online and they start from as little of 94p! Just place them on top of your iced cake. So simple!
- Press a star shaped cutter in to the fondant icing on top of the cake, fill the indent with edible sparkle, or ‘edge’ each indent with edible silver balls.
Easy Christmas Cake Recipe
And as for a recipe, there are loads out there, we’ve tried a few and give top marks to the one featured below. It’s pretty much as simple as you get and produces a good quality moist cake. We have gone for a nut free cake batter, you can add almonds or any nut you like, just substitute exact weight for some of the dried fruits.
- 1.2kg mixed dried fruit
- Zest and juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
- 150mls alcohol (brandy, whisky or sherry)
- 225g soft light brown sugar
- 250g butter
- 175g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2tsp mixed spice
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix together the dried fruit, butter, sugar, alcohol, zest and lemon in a large pan – heat to boiling point and then simmer for 10 minutes.
Leave it to cool for around 30 mins before adding the remaining ingredients.
Tip in to your pre-prepared tin and bake in the oven for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven, prick some holes in the top and pour over another 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol. Simple!
Once it is completely cool wrap it in a couple of layers of cling-film (nice and tight) and pop it in a tin. Top it up with a little extra booze every couple of weeks.
When you are ready to decorate it remove the cling film and leave to dry the surface for 48 hours (in the tin). If the cake has risen in the centre just use a sharp knife to carefully remove the top and level it out.
Enjoy the baking – enjoy the eating even more!
Hope you have all have a very happy Christmas.
Photographs: Alice’s Vintage Pantry
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