Festive Baking

If you have not as yet started your Christmas baking, well this is the place to start!

Edward’s Rich Fruit Cake

1lb/450g currants
12oz/350g sultanas
5oz/150g raisins
4oz/110g cherries-chopped into pieces
4oz/110g nibbed or chopped almonds
4oz/110g mixed peel
Grated zest of two lemons
4 tablespoons of brandy
12oz/350g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons of mixed spice
¾ teaspoons nutmeg
4oz/110g ground almonds
10oz/300g butter-softened
10oz/300g dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of treacle
5 large eggs

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 130C/250F/Gas Mark ½
You must begin by preparing the cake tin. You need to line the inside of a 10 inch round or 9 inch square cake tin with a double layer of parchment and the outside with a layer of brown paper so as to allow slow entry of heat into the cake. It is vitally important to spend time lining your cake tin correctly.
Next you need to put all of the dried fruit, the lemon zest and the chopped almonds into a large bowl and mix in the brandy. Cover and leave to infuse for 24-48 hours.

To Make the Cake:
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs into the mix.
Sift the flour, ground almonds and spices together.
Add the flours to the creamy butter mixture, mixing thoroughly.
Next mix in the treacle and combine well.
Finally you need to fold in the dried fruit which has been soaking. The mixture will get quite firm but do persevere at this stage.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth it all out across the top.
Bake the cake mixture for 3 ½ hours or until the mixture starts to come away from the side of the tin. The cake should have a little spring when pressed in the centre to indicate that it is cooked. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Pour additional brandy over the top of the cake if desired.

Almond icing:
8oz/225g ground almonds
4oz/110g icing sugar
4oz/110g caster sugar
1 large egg
6-8 drops of lemon juice.

Sift the icing sugar, caster sugar and ground almonds together.
Add in the beaten egg and lemon juice and use them to bind the mixture together.
Kneed the mix together (similar to pastry) and wrap it tightly in cling film and store in the fridge until required.

To Ice the cake:
Turn the rich fruit cake upside down onto a cake board or serving platter.
Brush the entire surface of the cake with boiled apricot jam.
On a work surface well dusted with icing sugar, roll out a piece of almond paste to fit the top of your cake and then long strips to cover all around the sides of the cake.
Dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar and use both your hands and your rolling pin to smooth the surface of the cake.
Leave the cake to dry out overnight.

The next day roll out the “shop bought sugar paste icing” as directed on the packet.
Spread over the cake and again, as with the almond icing smooth out with your hands and keep rubbing it to obtain a smooth shine.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
I have used a little red food colouring to colour some of the icing and make a ribbon out of some leftover strips of the icing and just folded some on top to make a bow of sorts.

Play around with the decoration to get it to the way you want it using either Christmas decorations, fresh flowers or some handmade decorations.

Brush the almond icing with water to stick the white icing to the cake.

This is the same recipe and process of decoration I use for a wedding cake.

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