I was sat at work the other day eating the last bit of Christmas Cake and I thought that I really needed to get my finger out and jot down some notes. I’ve never made a rich fruit cake before and while it was pretty nice, it wasn’t without issues, so here are those notes.
I got the recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, it was the only rich fruit cake recipe in the book that didn’t have any brandy in it. Instead it used dark rum, I had dark rum, just enough to make the cake. I know I shouldn’t really choose a recipe based on what booze I have in the house, but I wasn’t about to go out and buy a bottle of brandy, just to use a couple of tablespoons in a cake.
Other than the dried fruit, it was really easy and the kids did seem to enjoy themselves occasionally, especially with the stirring. It did seem to take a while to cook, it was supposed to be about two hours, but it ended up quite a bit more than that. It turns out that since we baked this, the fan on the oven has stopped working, so we can only assume it wasn’t working properly when we cooked the cake and that affected the cooking time.
We made the cake a couple of weeks before Christmas, so we should really have fed it with a bit more rum before we came to ice it. As we’d used all the rum up during the baking, there was none left for any feeding and I just like the brandy, I wasn’t about to buy any more for the couple of tablespoons worth that, in hindsight, was required. So the main note I need to make for myself if I bake another rich fruit cake, is to have enough booze in the house.
- Almond Paste
Because of the extra moisture, I decided against trying to make separate top and sides, like the book suggests. I just rolled out a large disc and dropped it over the top of the cake, after I’d slathered it in warm, sieved, apricot jam. I don’t think it looked too bad once it was one, it might not have been as good as doing it with separate pieces, but I was pretty happy with how it looked.
The resulting icing was a bit on the slack side, which I assume was mainly due to me using large eggs, rather than medium eggs, although it look OK until I added the glycerine. I didn’t have any more icing sugar to add to thicken it, so it was slightly sloppy when it was slathered all over the cake. This meant that the spikes slowly sunk back and it formed a bulge round the edge of the base. The kids were quite impressed though and had great fun whacking the cake with the pallet knife to create the spikes.
Over all I was very pleased with my first rich fruit cake, the rest of the family weren’t so enamoured, only having a singly slice each. So yes, I destroyed about seven eights of the thing all on my own and it wasn’t a chore. I’ll definitely make another Christmas cake next year, but I might just go for Mary Berry’s recipe in its entirety, as it looked very nice.