Difficulty Rating: Easy
When I was younger - Christmas was all about the magic. Now, it's all about family and great food & drink. Every year, we spend most of our time in Mama Bailey's kitchen - watching the hob, bopping about to a festive playlist and drinking fizz. It's my favourite part of Christmas.
I've been wanting to make Christmas cake for a few years now but time has always got away with me (sound familiar?!) and before I know it, I've missed the window. (Christmas cake is all about making it up to 3 months in advance so the cake matures into that rich taste we love so much. It's like you're literally eating Christmas.)
I decided this was the year - and found this Mary Berry recipe on Pinterest.
WHY I LOVE CHRISTMAS CAKE
- It combines alcohol with cake. Enough said.
- The recipe is really simple to follow (thank you Mary!).
- It makes a great Christmas centre-piece.
- It's a great gift for whoever is hosting Christmas.
- It keeps well.
- When you bake it - it makes your house smell of Christmas.
- Fruit cake can be frozen for up to 1 year - so you can make it earlier and freeze if you wish.
- You can still make Christmas cake as late as December - it just won't taste as rich.
Scroll down for timings, tips & the final result...
HEADS UP: TIMINGS
- It takes 3 days to soak the fruit in brandy (or sherry) so if you plan to bake on Saturday, get the fruit soaking on Wednesday. If you're a Sunday baker - get soaking Thursday.
- Then it takes 4-4.5 hours to bake so start this in the daytime rather than the evening otherwise it's a case of midnight bakery! (- Not that it happened to me... whoops.)
- Decorating: You don't add the covering to your cake until a week before you want to serve it - so you've got lots of time after you've baked to work out how you want to decorate it. (Scroll down for the final version...)
- Put a recurring annual reminder in your phone so you don't forget to make it in advance (no earlier than 25th September unless you bake & freeze). Also add reminders to stir your fruit when it's soaking in brandy/sherry over 3 days, as well as 'feeding' your cake with brandy/sherry at intervals over the 3 months to keep it moist (we do this via a flavour injector as well as brushing a glug over the surface).
- Add the ingredients to your online food delivery that week / month - it makes things so much easier. Otherwise you spend half your day trekking to the shops and having a panic because you can't locate treacle.
- If you don't have the correct cake tin, add this to your online shop (if you can). If not, this one is on Amazon Prime.
- Also make sure you have greaseproof paper, foil, a flavour injector, pastry brush and an air-tight cake tin before you bake.
- Don't wrap your cake directly in foil as it will react badly.
- Use Pinterest for cake topper ideas. I'm loving the winter forest styles I've seen on there - I've got these so far:
- Eat it before Christmas Day. By the 25th, everyone's full and food in general tends to merge into one. Make it an event - whether it's the first pudding you have when you've finished work for the year, or an accompaniment to a pot of tea on Christmas Eve. Eat it at a time you'll appreciate it.
Covering & decoration will be the week before Christmas (of course!). To see the finished version, make sure to follow Maison Bailey on Twitter & Instagram. I'll also update this post with the final result!
- Beware - Mary advises to wait 'a few days' between adding the marzipan layer so it has time to dry out before applying the royal icing. I didn't clock this so could only leave it for 24 hours.
- If you're new to icing, go for the 'rustic' look by adding peaks to the top with a palette knife. Less pressure to achieve a silky smooth finish (plus I think it looks more inviting).
- Try these glitter animals as cake toppers (N.B. don't eat the glitter - it's not for consumption!).
- If you don't have a cake stand with a lid, I'd definitely get one before decorating (I have this one). Not only will it protect the cake during these final stages, but it'll help with transportation if it's a gift for the Christmas host.
If fruit cake's not to your taste, why not try these snowflake gingerbread cookies - they taste really Christmassy, too.