Alcohol · Britain · Cake · Christmas

The cake which takes all year, part 2

You’ve made your mixed peel, you’ve used the syrup to make fizzy drink and the flesh to make citrus preserves and now it’s September.  [insert majestic music].  It is time to make the cake [dom dom dom].

This recipe is from the father of my friend Karla.  Karla, although having lived here virtually all her life, is a green card, being proud of her British birth.  Her father likewise, and with a very lovely Yorkshire accent.  Several years ago he compiled a cookbook of his region’s dishes and she let me copy this one.

Lest you berate me, oh citizens of the Motherland, I am fully aware there are regional standards and that something 5 miles away from you is abhorrent, vile and should be shunned.  Some of the English sensibilities crack me up.  I am 7,000 miles away and this recipe works for my husband, so if it’s not exactly as you say it should be, I am not offended.

more fruit than cakeGrandma’s Rich Christmas Cake Recipe (Sept-Oct)

Adapted from K. Haigh
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9-10 glace cherries
  • 1 heaped cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups currants
  • 1 T brandy
  • 1 tsp mixed spice*
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1/2 cup mixed peel 

Blanch the almonds, remove brown skins and slice.  Wash the cherries & cut in halves or quarters.

Sieve the flour, spices and salt together.

Cream the butter and sugar in a warm bowl.  Beat the eggs and add them gradually along with a little flour.  Fold in the rest of the flour and spices.

Add the fruit and brandy and stir well.

Line a 9″ or (2) 6″ cake tins with parchment and add the mixture.  Bake at 300ºF for 2 hours, reducing heat if the cake browns too much.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, brush the entire cake with brandy and wrap in plastic wrap.  Set in a cool place which is out of your way — it’s going to sit there for a long time!

Each week, unwrap the cake and brush (I tend to pour) brandy on the cake, then re-wrap and allow it to absorb the alcohol.  You need to begin your cake in September to allow enough time for the brandy to moisten and meld the fruit into the cake.  If you’ve gone all the way into October, it may be too late to start.  Just sayin’!

*Mixed Spice

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons mace
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Optional – coriander, ginger

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