Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Twitter Christmas Cake Cook-A-Long Part 2 (#twitcakebake)

I was supposed to get on and bake this cake 2 weeks ago, but with the horrors of night shifts and then the dreaded lurgy I kept putting it off. This means my fruit were well and truly soaked by the time I started baking yesterday. I tested some (quality control is very important in baking) and they were sweet, juicy and burst with fruity sherry. In fact I spent the rest of the afternoon baking in a giggly mood snaffling more and more of the dry fruit. I don't recommend attempting to bake this if you're planning on hopping in the car later. 

I'm so pleased that I chose a decent sherry to soak the fruit in. Sherry is having a massive revival at the moment as is rapidly becoming the drink of the sophisticated as well as the Christmas tipple of choice for most Grandma's. Apparently it's the perfect drink to have with tapas, so next time I'm nibbling on some parma ham for dinner I might try a little glass. 

As is normal for me I decided I was going to bake this cake, and then realised I was missing half the ingredients. No matter. I just made it up a bit. It is now a vastly-modified Delia Christmas cake. I don't think that she'd even recognise it. Now I know that I haven't actually tried it yet, but I think that it smells and feels great. I can't wait to tuck in over Christmas. 

Here is the recipe I used...

What I used...
225g sugar (Delia says soft brown, I used my homemade vanilla sugar)
225g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
225g plain flour 
1 teaspoon baking power (Delia doesn't but I was given this tip)
Nutmeg, all spice and cinnamon to taste (again different from Delia)
1 dessert spoon of golden syrup (Or black treacle like Delia)
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
(Delia also adds 50g of chopped almonds, I think walnuts would be tasty too!)

How I did it...
1. Get a 20cm cake tin and butter and dust it with flour. 

2. Heat the oven to 140 degrees C

3. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. I can't find my mixing bowl so resorted to using a big pan to mix everything up in. 

4. Add the 4 eggs one at a time and whisk into the mixture. Some like to beat the eggs first and mix them in little by little to reduce the risk of the mixture curdling. I like to live on the edge. My mixture didn't curdle. 

5. Fold in the flour and spices. Don't over mix at this point. I think I used about 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon of each spice. This is a great excuse to eat the cake mix while telling everyone that you are "tasting to balance the spices". My one massive warning is that if you attempt to spice a Christmas cake while not listening to Christmas music it will definitely go wrong. This is just as much about Christmas magic as baking skill. 

6. Now add the boozy fruit (while having a little nibble to make sure they taste good), lemon zest, orange zest and golden syrup. (Now is also the time to add nuts if you're that way inclined). Don't over mix at this step either. 

7. Pour it all into your baking tin. Yes I know it's not lined and Delia would probably have a fit if she saw us doing this, but life is too short to cut out baking paper when this works just as well. I have NEVER had a cake stick to a tin I have buttered and floured properly. 

8. Make the cake a little foil hat to wear in the oven. This stops the aliens reading it's mind. It also stops the top burning. Poke a little hole in it to let the steam out or it will explode. 

9. Bake for 4 1/4 - 4 3/4 hours in the oven. It's ready when you stab it and the knife comes out clean. 

10. Cool for half an hour or so in the tin and then finish cooling on a baking rack. I don't own a baking rack so I cooled mine on a plate. It survived. 

11. Wrap in foil. 

12. Occasionally unwrap the foil to feed the cake some more sherry. It soaks in better if you poke lots of little holes in the cake. Delia says if you don't like alcohol you can use orange juice. Magali says if you don't like alcohol she might make you a chocolate Yule log nearer Christmas. 

The next step will be decorating the cake...


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