You can make Christmas cake well ahead of the big day – in fact, the longer you leave it, the better it will taste! This delicious Christmas cake will be the talk of your Christmas Day meal or party. Made with fruits including currants, raisins and cherries and soaked with rich sherry, the sponge is fruity and moist. Mary Berry’s Christmas cake is topped with an easy royal icing and decorated with a festive ribbon. This cake is simple to recreate at home and has to be one of our favourite bakes. This recipe was taken from Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection book. Serve this cake with a dollop of brandy butter for a real Christmassy experience. The whole family are going to love tucking into this cake. It makes a foolproof Christmas cake every time.
- 175g (6 oz) raisins
- 350g (12 oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
- 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
- 350g (12oz) sultanas
- 150ml (¼ pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
- Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 250g (9oz) butter, softened
- 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
- 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
- 175g (6oz) plain flour
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
To finish and decorate Mary Berry’s Christmas cake:
- About 3tbsp apricot jam, sieved and warmed
- Icing sugar
- 675g shop-bought almond paste
- Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake
- Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140C, 120C fan, gas 1.
- Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
- When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don’t remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
- Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.
To prepare the Christmas cake ahead: Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead – this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.