• the Cake:
  • 250g currants
  • 250g sultanas
  • 100g dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 100g glacé cherries, cut in half
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 125ml whisky, plus extra to feed
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 130g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g whole almonds
  • 25g crystallised ginger, chopped
  • The almond paste
  • 200g unrefined golden icing sugar
  • 200g unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 500g ground almonds
  • the zest of a small orange
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 2-4 tsps orange or lemon juice
  • The icing :
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1kg unrefined golden icing sugar
  • juice of a large lemon

For many English people a Christmas without a Christmas pudding is unthinkable! But there are so many recipes….which is actually a good one? I came to the conclusion years ago that there is NO perfect recipe. Every one adds their own ingredients and every xmas cake taste differently. I have a recipe that works for me but feel free to add your own ingredients.

1. Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the whisky, cover and leave to soak overnight. Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 140C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t curdle.

3. Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining whisky, the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.

4. Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect.

5. Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it’s cooked.

6. Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more whisky. With the baking parchment still attached, wrap well in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until you’re ready to ice just before Christmas

7 the almond paste : Sift the sugars into a large bowl and mix with the ground almonds. Grate in the orange zest then mix to a firm dough with the beaten eggs and some of the orange or lemon juice. It is important not to make the paste too wet, otherwise it will be too sticky to roll. Tip the dough on to a board or work surface dusted with icing sugar and knead it lightly until it is smooth and soft. You should cover the cake with almond paste a good two or three days before you ice it.

Here are some tips to cover your cake with…this is optional but in my opinion ..very tasty

To cover the cake with almond paste

The almond paste mixture given here will cover a 25cm cake. You will need some extra icing sugar and some sieved, warm apricot jam.

If the top of your cake is fairly flat, which it should be, then you put the paste directly on to it with just a little jam to encourage it to stick. If your cake has a slight mound in the centre, then slice the top flat with a long-bladed knife. (If it has sunk, then you’re on your own.)

Brush the top of the cake with sieved apricot jam. This is best done with a pastry brush, though I have done it with a knife before now. Cover a work surface or board with a thin dusting of sieved icing sugar. Take about half of the paste and roll it out into a circle 2.5cm larger than the top of the cake – I use the empty cake tin as a template. Pick the cake up and put it top-side down on the almond paste. Pull the edges up around the sides of the cake and turn the cake right side up again.

Roll the remaining almond paste out into a long rectangle. The easiest way to measure it – indeed almost the only way – is to wrap a piece of string around the cake then trim the rectangle of almond paste to that length. Brush the sides of the cake with apricot jam and press the sheet of almond paste around the sides, trimming and squaring the edges as necessary. Cover loosely with tin foil and lift into a cake tin where it should sit for a day or two before icing.

ICING THE CAKE

8 Put the egg whites in a large bowl and beat them loosely with a fork. They will break up and start to froth a little. Now beat half the sifted icing sugar and all of the lemon juice into the egg whites with a wooden spoon. You will need to beat for about 10 minutes until it is completely smooth. Stir in the remaining icing sugar until you have a thick paste. It should be quite hard going to stir it towards the end. Cover with a clean, wet towel until needed.

tip : to add extra ingredients like : dark chocolate ..just give it a try :-))

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