Last Minute Christmas Cake

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas is coming, and with it a barrage of Christmas food and drink that we don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the year. Christmas cake, mince pies with cream, mulled wine and lashings and lashings of chocolate. There is something about the Christmas period that means we can indulge in the in the rich, generous helpings that are on offer and not feel guilty about it!

Christmas is also a time to share these festive treats with your family and friends. For me, there is nothing better than watching those you care about eating something you have taken time to prepare for them. Although, this can mean a lot of work in the lead up to Christmas, which can be hard to fit in with all the increased socialising that goes on this time of year.

Today I would like to introduce you a really beloved friend of mine: Rachael. She’s intelligent, amazingly clever and an incredible baker who has prepared this week’s recipe for me. Literally for me, as I'm eating it as I type.

She told me about the British tradition of preparing the Christmas Cake in advance, sometimes even several months in advance, which I must admit looked really weird (and a bit disgusting) to me in first instance. Not as disgu… I mean… weird as the tradition of saving a slice of the wedding cake and keep it for years to then eat it on a special occasion such as an anniversary or the first child’s christening.

She’s my guest chef today and here you have her explanation to this particular tradition:

Traditionally Stir-up Sunday was the day that the Christmas Pudding was made, with the whole family taking turns to stir in order to bring good luck. In recent years the day’s scope has increased to include other festive goodies such as the Christmas cake itself. This year it fell on 23rd November – were you making your cake…? I know I wasn’t…

Having recently found at I am having twins my mind was on other things such as morning sickness and trying to stay awake. Now I’m over the worst of it and with the festive season fast approaching I turned to a 1970s British Institution for inspiration, Fanny Craddock who taught housewives how to cook their way to their husbands’ hearts.

This recipe is based on Fanny’s ‘White Christmas Cake’ as doesn’t need to mature like a traditional Christmas cake does (thank goodness). So if your life those months are as hectic as mine, this last minute Christmas cake will do the job.


175g Self Raising Flour
85g Cornflour
200g Cut Glazed Cherries (floured to stop them sinking!)
175g Dried Pineapple
190g Butter
200g Icing Sugar
4 Eggs
100g Mixed Peel
200g Sultanas
50g Chopped Nuts
100g Chopped Dried Apricots
2fl oz Amaretto (or something else with a Christmas feel such as Brandy or Sherry)
Grated Rind & Juice of an Orange
1 Teaspoon Rose Water
1 Teaspoon Mixed Spice
Drop of Vanilla Essence


Line and oil a 23cm cake tin (ideally with a removable base and sprung sides). Sift together the flour, cornflour and mixed spice. In a separate bowl mix the dried fruit, nuts and orange peel. In another bowl mix the amaretto, rose water and orange juice. Then add the eggs and mix well.

Time to let out your frustration and cream the butter until it is soft, then mixing in the sugar (or you can use a mixer). Now you get to bring all your prep work together mixing the dried fruit mix, egg mix and the flour. It is important to grab any available family members to have a stir for good luck.

This cake likes a slow and low bake, needing an oven pre-heated to Gas Mark 3 / 140 fan for an hour, then a further 20 minutes at 130 fan. The ‘cooked test’ hasn’t changed for decades; stick a clean skewer in and pull it out. If it comes out clean, it is cooked.

That’s it! All you need to do is decorate it. You will see I have gone for a fairly simple iced top but go to town if you have time – I just hope it hangs around until the big day itself.

Thinking about it, as I’m cooking two babies at the moment, do I get three slices…?

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