Christmas for me is all about family traditions both old and new. The start of the countdown to Christmas is, as far as I'm concerned, nothing to do with the lights going up on Oxford Street or talk about X Factor having yet another Christmas number one. For me the true start to Christmas is when I mix, measure, bake, feed and then decorate my Christmas cake. I have tried several cake recipes over the past few years but in my honest opinion my recipe of choice has to come from....
Here is her Classic Christmas Cake recipe....
You will need
450g currants, 175g sultanas and 175 raisins, 50g glace cherries rinsed and chopped, 50g candied peel chopped, 3 tbsp brandy, 225g plain flour, half teaspoon salt, quarter teaspoon grated nutmeg, half teaspoon ground mixed spice. 225g unsalted butter, 225g soft brown sugar, 4 large eggs, 50g chopped almonds, 1 dessertspoon black treacle, zest of one lemon and one orange, a 20cm round cake tin.
The night before you put all the dried fruit and mixed peel into a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy - leave for at least 12 hours.
Next day pre-heat oven to 140 degrees centigrade. Sift the flour, salt and spices into one bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Whisk the butter and sugar together then gradually add the egg to avoid curdling (but don't worry if this happens). Fold in the flour, fruit, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
Grease and line your tin with greaseproof paper and evenly spread the mixture in it.
Cover the top of the cake with a double layer circle with a small hole in the centre (about the size of a 50p). Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for - now this is where Delia and I disagree because she says 4 - 41/2 hours - I find 2 1/2 hours is fine and any longer in my oven burns it. So I suggest you set the timer for a couple of hours then after that keep checking quite frequently until a you think it's cooked through (test this by putting a knife in). Cool the cake in the tin for 30 mins, remove and place on a wire rack until cold. Then it's ready to be wrapped in double greaseproof paper and stored in a tin. I then 'feed' my cake once a week with spoons of brandy and just before Christmas I decorate it with ready rolled icing and marzipan and of course a snowman and Santa!
I love to eat Christmas cake like they do in the North of England - with either a strong Stilton or cheddar cheese - which ever cheese you prefer it should be strong enough to make your tongue itch!