Q: Why was the manger so crowded on Christmas Eve?
A: Because of the three wide men.
I grew up listening to the endless jokes about fruitcake and never gave it much thought.
I lived in Brooklyn, NY and we were not in fruitcake territory, nor were we a fruitcake family (Of course that is debatable).
Then I met my husband and was introduced to the wonder that is Christmas Cake. A rich, boozy fruit cake covered in marzipan and a crisp royal icing.
I now cannot think of ever having it be Christmastime and not making a proper Christmas Cake.
Decorations optional, but oh, so much more festive.
Here is a yummy version of Christmas Cake. It is a bit lighter in color than the recipes I am used to, but it has an outstanding fruit and brandy flavor.
Once you have your cake, try one of the decoration ideas to top it off.
1 cup (150g) raisins
2 1/4 cups (360g) sultanas
3/4 cup (120g) currants
1 cup (140g) slivered almonds
1 cup (140g) chopped dates
¾ cup (180ml) brandy
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla
300g butter, softened
1¼ cups (220g) brown sugar
2¼ cups (340g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
1/2 cup (125ml) brandy, extra to spoon atop finished cake
1. Place raisins, sultanas, currants, almonds, dates, brandy, mixed spice and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and allow to soak for at least 8 hours or as long as you have.
2. Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).
3. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 8 minutes until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
4. Combine butter mixture, soaked fruit mixture, flour, and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
5. Spoon into a 22cm-square or a 9 inch round cake tin double-lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 2 hours or until a tester comes clean.
6. Spoon extra brandy over the warm cake.
7. Decorate as desired or serve as is.
Note: I like to make my cake well ahead, usually in September if possible. I wrap the cake in waxed paper and then a layer of foil. Once a week I spoon more brandy over the cake and then rewrap.
Serves a lot
Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine
Candy Cane Tree Christmas Cake
1 baked Christmas cake, 9 or 10 inch
2 Tbs apricot preserves or jam
Confectioners’ sugar, to dust the work surface
1.5 lbs marzipan
Royal Icing (recipe follows)
Ice cream sugar cones
White candy melts
White sugar crystals
Candy canes, 6 inch size
Confetti sprinkle circles
Starburst Fruit Chews
Yellow food coloring (or your choice of color)
Directions to cover cake in marzipan:
Note: Do this a day before you plan to cover the cake with royal icing.
1. Brush the cake with jam (This will keep the marzipan from sliding off).
2. Sprinkle the work surface with a little confectioners’ sugar. Knead the marzipan into a ball shape and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle which is just about 4 inches larger than the top of the cake. The marzipan should be about 3/4 cm (1/4 inch) thick.
3. Place the marzipan round onto the top of the cakes and smooth over the top and sides. (Mine never looks too great, but it is going to be covered in royal icing so I don’t obsess over it). Trim the excess marzipan.
4. Cover your hands with some confectioners’ sugar and use them to continue to smooth the marzipan until it is as form fitting onto the cake as you can get.
5. Set aside, uncovered, for a day.
Directions to cover cake in Royal Icing:
1. Immediately after preparing the Royal Icing pour it over top of cake and let drip over the sides. Allow to harden and trim excess from bottom of cake. Alternately, allow icing to sit for an hour and then ice with a spatula. Smooth top and sides with a palette knife dipped in hot water.
Directions for Candy Cane Tree And Little Parcels Decorations:
1. Cut off ends of the sugar cones, so the tree section is around 3 inches long. Use a serrated knife to carefully saw through without shattering the cone.(Easier said than done…go slowly)
2. Dip cone sections in melted white candy coating. (Use a tall plastic cup to make it easier to coat the entire cone.)
Remove and allow excess coating to drip off.
3. Sprinkle white sugar crystals or sanding sugar over entire surface of the cone. (Do this over a large bowl so you can reuse the crystals.) Set cones on wax paper to dry completely. When dry, re-dip the cone bottoms so that the cone is completely coated.
4. Decorate trees with dots of candy confetti circles using a dab of melted candy coating. (Tweezers are helpful here)
5. Break off the candy cane handles to form a straight piece, around 5 inches long.
6. Dip one end of the candy cane in some of the melted candy coating and insert the uncoated end straight into the cake.
7. Place a Christmas Tree on top of the candy cane and let the candy coating dry and work like glue.
8. To make the presents, unwrap Starburst candies and place on the cake. Tint vanilla icing yellow and pipe on small ribbons nd bows.
Recipe inspired by Bakerella
4 egg whites
1 1/2 lbs confectioners’ sugar
3 drops lemon juice
2 tsp glycerine (you can buy it here)
1. Sift the sugar and set aside.
2. Place egg whites and lemon juice onto a mixing bowl. Beat in the sugar in small quantities, using a mixer, until smooth. (The finished icing should be smooth and glossy and form stiff peaks.)
3. Beat in the glycerine.
4. Use immediately if you want the poured over, smooth look. Otherwise, let sit for an hour and then use to ice the cake.
Christmas Cake With Christmas Trees
8 ice cream sugar cones
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla icing
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Green gel food coloring
Assorted candy decorations
1. Using a serrated knife, carefully score and cut ice cream cones to desired heights.
2. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup frosting and confectioners’ sugar; tint green. Set remaining frosting aside.
3. Cut a hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert star tip #77. Fill with greenicing. Pipe icing in overlapping rows over cones. Decorate with candies.
Makes 8 trees
Recipe from Taste Of Home Magazine
Christmas Cake With Star Cookie Border
Your favorite sugar cookie recipe rolled out and cut into stars
Assorted icing and decorations for the cookies
Dragées in assorted colors, or other candies, to decorate the top of the cake
1. Decorate baked sugar star cookies as desired.
2. Affix stars to the sides of the cake with icing.
3. Decorate the top of the cake with the dragées.
All Christmas music all of the time drives me BONKERS this time of year.
Much, much better is this new song from Randolph’s Leap from the latest EP ‘Hermit’.
I am completely won over by the retro vibe and that brass bit. This track is also a lyric lover’s paradise.