Monday, December 19, 2011

Nicola's Christmas Cake

So excited......... my good friend Nicola O'Rourke has agreed to guest on my blog with her amazing Christmas Cake recipe. Nicola is a fantastic cook and a great baker and I'm very honoured that she agreed to share her delicious recipe with us, and here's hoping she'll share more kitchen secrets in the future. For those of you who haven't already made their Christmas Cake, you might consider this yummy recipe. And for those of you who have made their cake but wondering about the decorating, then check out Nicola's traditional way of decorating the cake....


To this day my mother still bakes a variety of different cakes and sweets regularly.  For years as a young girl during the run up to Christmas I watched my mother make Christmas Cakes and Christmas Plum Puddings and other festive treats.  We well and truly knew it was Christmas when the aroma of baking was emanating from our kitchen.  This year I decided to try my own and yes it did bring back fond memories I had with my mother all those years ago.  I did have to ring her to remind me about the lining of the tin!!!

225g/8oz Cream or Plain Flour
175g/6oz Butter (at room temp)
175g/6oz Muscavado Brown Sugar
½ teaspoon Mixed Spice
½ teaspoon Nutmeg
4 large eggs
500g Packet Luxury Fruit Mix
375g Packet Fruit Mix
100g Packet Chopped Mixed Nuts
100g Packet Ground Almonds
Ride of 1 Lemon
Rind of 1 Orange
2 tablespoons Whiskey

Step 1 and 2 should be done the night before.

Step 1
Prepare Fruit:
I soaked the 500g Packet Luxury Fruit Mix and 375g Packet Fruit Mix in Whiskey over night.  The recipe says 2 tablespoons, I did an easy pour. I like to be generous, it is Christmas after all.  I stirred the fruit a few times that night and following day before began baking.

Step 2
Lining the Tin:
Line a 20cms/8”round or 18cms/7” Square deep cake tin with double layer of parchment.  I’m using a round tin, so I cut two circles of greaseproof paper and one circle of brown paper.  You need to put a layer of greaseproof paper around your tin, fringe the end of that so it will sit in end of tin.  Place the brown circle down on the fringed paper and then place the 2 pieces of greaseproof.  Finish off by circulating brown paper round your tin, secure in place with twin or a straight pin.

Ok let’s get started:
1.         Preheat oven to 120 Degrees C/ Gas ½
2.         Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in the eggs with a few spoonfuls of the flour.  Sieve in the remaining flour and the spices.  Mix well.
3.         Finally stir in the fruit mixes, chopped nuts, ground almonds, lemon rind, orange rind and Whiskey.  Ensure ingredients are well combined.
4.         Transfer to prepared tin, level off top with back of the spoon.  Bake for about 3 ½ to 4 hours but check at regular intervals after 2 ½ hours.
5.         When baked (a knife inserted into cake should come out clean, no dough attached to it) remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.
6.         When cold remove from tin and wrap in greaseproof paper, then tin foil.  Store in a cool dry place until ready for decorating.

Ovens vary a lot nowadays so the above temperatures and times are just guidelines.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines.
My mothers tip.  After an hour in the oven, with a sheet of brown paper, cut a diamond in middle of sheet, cover the cake to avoid the top burning.
Leave cooked cake in tin over night to ensure it is fully cooled.

Decorating -
Now you can cheat and buy the ready made marzipan and roll on icing, but sticking with tradition, I recreated her almond paste and royal icing topping.

½ lb ground almonds
¼ lb icing sugar
¼ lb caster sugar
1 egg beaten
Drop almond essence
Drop whiskey

Mix almonds, caster sugar and icing sugar in bowl with a wooden spoon.
Beat the egg, brush the top of the cake with some beaten egg.
Wet ingredients with the rest of the egg, add a drop of essence and whiskey.
Mix well using hands as that will bring out the oil in the almonds.
Make into a ball, put icing sugar on board and roll out almond until you get it to the size of the top of cake.  When you place it on cake give it a gentle roll with rolling pin to even it out.

Follow instructions on Royal icing packet, cover all the cake, finish with some Christmas ribbon and plastic cake toppers.

Enjoy, and Happy Christmas!!!
Created by Nicola O’Rourke 19/12/2011.                                    

In conjunction with Shamrock and Odlums recipe from Dunnes Stores.

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