Rich, fruity and full of complex flavours, Christmas cake is one of the most luxurious bakes of the year. This Classic Christmas Cake recipe is bursting with the flavours of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Dark, dense and crumbly moist, this indulgent cake is perfect for cutting into on Christmas Eve.
Top tip: decorate your cake with festive flourishes such as white snowflakes cut from icing, holly cut from red and green icing or a scattering of silver dragees.
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3. Grease and double line the base and sides of a 20.5cm (8") loose bottomed round cake tin.
Makes one 20.5cm (8") round cake.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if necessary. Sift the remaining flour and spices together and fold into the mixture. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients and lemon and spoon into the prepared tin.
Smooth the surface of the cake and then make a dip in the centre. Take a strip of brown wrapping paper and wrap around the cake to form a collar. Secure with string and bake the cake in the oven for 1 hour.
Reduce the temperature to 140°C, 275°F, Gas Mark 1. Bake for a further 2½-3 hours. Cover the cake with greaseproof paper to prevent the top from over browning, if necessary.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Peel away the lining paper and prick the base with a skewer. Pour the brandy over and then wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.
When ready to decorate, turn the cake upside down and place on a cake board. Knead the marzipan and break off some small pieces. Roll them into sausage shapes and use to fill any gaps at the base of the upturned cake.
Warm through the jam and brandy in a saucepan and brush over the surface of the cake. Roll out the marzipan and cut into a round, the same size as the circumference of the cake, then carefully lift on top. Knead the fondant icing and roll out on a lightly icing sugar covered surface. Again cut to the same size as the circumference of the cake, brush the marzipan with a little brandy and lift the icing over. Smooth well.
We recommend baking your Christmas cake in November and then storing until 1-2 weeks before Christmas, when you can decorate it. Remember that after you have decorated your cake you should store it in a non-airtight container to prevent the icing from going soggy.
We have decorated our cake with star and snowflake shapes cut out of fondant icing, finishing some of these with edible gold sparkle lustre. We finished off the cake with a gold ribbon around the edge.