The last weekend of July marked my Granma’s 80th birthday so a few weeks ago I set about making a gardening themed cake that could hopefully withstand travelling 310 miles to Cornwall in two trains, a plane and a car. I hadn’t intended to blog this birthday cake but took some pictures before it made its epic journey just in case and I do get asked for celebration cake recipes so here is the BBC Good Food recipe I always use. I have a increased the quantities by 1/5 below to make a slightly deeper cake as I was concerned about the number of guests increasing once I’d bought the cake board and box. This 8″ cake fed 28 with party sized slices cut in a controversial grid pattern.
I haven’t gone into great detail with the sugar craft work as I’m not an expert and the recipe is long enough already! Tutorials on splitting cakes, crumb coating, applying sugar paste and making decorations can all be found on Youtube or google which I where I learnt everything I know. The only thing I would say is never store a sugar paste covered cake in an airtight container or in the fridge. It will sweat and no one wants a sweaty cake no matter how pretty it looks.
As soon as I spotted this recipe for chocolate and mulled cider cake by Will Torrent in the December issue of Jamie Magazine, I knew I was going to have to give it a try. It would make a great alternative to christmas pudding and has the wow factor in both looks and taste. It keeps well for several days in an air tight container. Most supermarkets sell mulled cider or make your own by heating apple cider in a saucepan with a mulling spice sachet or star anise, cloves, a cinnamon stick and a squeeze of orange.
I think it must have been in about 2009 that I started making my own christmas cakes. I tried a few different recipes in the early years but since giving Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe a go I haven’t looked at another recipe.
I have tinkered with the quantity of some of the ingredients over the years and have to disagree with Delia’s insistence on not checking the cake unit at least 4 hours has passed, mine is always cooked at around 3hrs 50 so I feel her timings are vastly overstated. Hopefully below you will find the recipe for a dark and fruity Christmas cake laced with brandy, rum or whisky as you see fit.
I suggest placing a roasting tin of boiling water below the shelf on the bottom of the oven right before baking the cake as the steam helps to make a moister cake. I also place a baking tray on the rack above the cake as this further protects the top from burning.
Is it too soon to mention the C word?…….I hope not! I try to make my Christmas cake by mid October and have been using Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe for some years now having made a few tweaks to suit my own tastes. I definitely stand on the Mary Berry side where alcohol in cakes/desserts is concerned and frankly more is more. Delia suggests a quite stingy 45ml brandy while Mary goes for 150ml so I’m edging up towards Mary’s measure!
To get started I like to soak the fruit for 5-7 days before baking the cake. Delia only soaks hers overnight though so if you are short on time, overnight is fine. And some cooks swear by a month or more soaking so start it whenever you have the time. For readers in the UK, Asda currently have 500g bags of dried fruit on 3 for 2 promotion so thats my cue to get soaking fruit.