Christmas Cake

Covered with almond paste and iced in a simple style, this rich fruit Christmas cake looks impressive. It should be prepared at least one month ahead to allow the flavours to develop.

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  • Quantity: 12 SERVES
  • Prep Time:
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Ingredients

1 cup (250 g) butter
1 1⁄2 cup (280 g) brown sugar
6 eggs
2 cup 250 g) plain (all-purpose) flour sifted
3 cup 375 g) sultanas (golden raisins)
2 cup (300 g) currants
3 cup (375 g) seedless raisins roughly chopped
2 cup (420 g) glacé (candied)
cherries cut in halves
3⁄4 cup (140 g) mixed candied peel chopped
3⁄4 cup (80 g) ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 large orange and 1 large lemon
1⁄3 cup (80 ml) rum whisky or brandy, for sprinkling over the cake before icing
For the almond paste4 1/2 cups (455 g) ground almonds
1 1⁄2 cup (185 g) icing
(confectioners") sugar sifted
1 1⁄2 cup (345 g) caster
(superfine) sugar
8 egg yolks
1 teaspoon almond essence or vanilla essence (extract)
3 tablespoon apricot jam heated and sieved
For the royal icing
3 cup (375 g) icing
2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation

Preparation and application time 1 hour
Drying time 24 hours

1. Mix the ground almonds with the sifted icing sugar and the caster sugar. Add egg yolks and the almond or vanilla essence and mix to form a soft, but not sticky, paste. Smooth by kneading very brie2/3y on a work surface lightly sifted with icing sugar.

2. Remove cake from wrappings and place upside-down in the centre of a 30-cm round gold or silver cake board, or on a cake stand, if preferred.

3. Using a fine skewer, make several holes in the base of the cake; insert the skewer to a depth of about 4 cm. Spoon rum, whisky or brandy over the base of the cake and allow it to gradually seep into the holes.
4. Roll out the almond paste to a neat round about 33-cm in diameter. Turn cake right side up and brush all over with the warm, sieved apricot jam.

5. Carefully lift the paste onto the cake; smooth it evenly over the top and down the side, pressing it gently but flrmly into position. Trim off any excess paste from the base. Smooth paste with a palette knife.

6. Leave cake, uncovered, in a cool, dry place for 24 hours to allow the paste to dry completely before adding the icing.

Royal icing
Preparation and icing time 1 hour
Drying time 24 hours

1. Place sifted icing sugar and the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy; beat in the lemon juice.

2. Spoon 3 tbsp of icing mixture onto the cake; spread evenly over the top only. Using a metal ruler, smooth the icing by pulling the ruler across the top of the cake. Trim away any excess icing. Leave overnight to dry.

3. Put remaining icing in a clean bowl, cover the surface closely with cling wrap and refrigerate. Next day, beat the icing and coat the top of the cake again; smooth icing as before.

4. Spread remaining icing around the side of the cake; let a little come up onto the top (see picture). Use a palette knife to work icing up into attractive peaks and swirls.

5. Leave icing to dry overnight. Decorate with your choice of Christmas ornaments.

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