Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Easy Traditional Christmas Cake - Mary Berry

Every year I say I'm going to make a Christmas cake and Stir Up Sunday comes and goes (I'm never sure if that is just for Christmas puddings or Christmas cake as well), and then by the time I am ready to do it, it's only a week or so before Christmas. The idea of a Christmas cake - essentially a rich fruit cake - is that you soak the fruit in booze (usually brandy) and then feed the cake with more alcohol over several weeks. So it's not really something that I want to make at the last minute, though I'm sure some recipes for doing just that exist!

This year I've been really busy at work, and often working on weekends, so haven't done any Christmas baking at all - apart from this cake. This year I did manage to get myself organised early. I couldn't actually make the cake on Stir Up Sunday as I intended - I got out all the ingredients and then read I was supposed to soak the fruit in brandy for three days, so put them all away again! I soaked the fruit from mid-week and made the cake the following weekend.

Since then - about three weeks ago - I've only remembered to feed the cake with brandy twice, but used quite a lot both times so hopefully that will be enough!

I have the Great British Bake Off Christmas recipe book which is full of things that look amazing - I received it as a gift one Christmas but haven't made that many things from it. When it comes to Christmas cake though -  very traditional, British cake - who else but to follow than Mary Berry? As the BBC Good Food website puts it, she has been making Christmas cakes for longer than GBBO co-host Paul Hollywood has been alive (probably!). Her recipe for a classic Christmas cake is available online here.

This is the recipe that I used, but I covered the cake using 500g marzipan and used 2/3 of the suggested quantity of royal icing. It seemed a lot and the amount I used was plenty to cover the whole cake, though whether it would have been better with a thicker layer remains to be seen.

As I was short of time, I decorated the cake with royal icing and a cake topper I was sent to review by My Cupcake Toppers - read more on this below.

Here are a few pictures of the different stages, from soaking the fruit (top right), then moving down and across the cake batter, and in the main picture, the cake once it had come out of the oven. A little darker than I would have liked but I'm sure it's fine!

I turned the cake upside down to remove the greaseproof paper and decided to ice it this way up so it would have a flatter top.

This looks like fondant but it's actually marzipan - I bought a pack (I know on GBBO you would be expected to make your own!) and covered the cake with it.

I made up some royal icing using icing sugar, egg whites and lemon juice and covered the cake. It's easiest if you do this on a cake turntable if you have one, and use a crank knife (a palette knife with part of the handle at an angle) so you can run the knife around the edge of the cake and smooth it all off.

Here it is looking a bit smoother!

As I was quite short of time I was very glad to have just received a few things from My Cupcake Toppers to review. This is a website where you can buy pictures printed onto icing or rice paper - everything from Christmas to TV shows to your own design. I'll talk more about these when I review the ones they sent me to go on cupcakes tomorrow.

One thing I hadn't seen before was the option to have a large 7.5 inch round cake topper printed onto icing, that I could cut around and place on my cake. I chose a snowflake design and when it came - protected in a stiff envelope - I found that the icing was a flexible sheet (rather than hard and brittle) meaning I could easily cut around it and place it on my cake. It worked perfectly (delivery was very swift) and looked really good on the cake.

I finished the cake with some Christmas washi tape from Hobbycraft around the edge of the cake board and a Santa and Christmas tree made of royal icing I bought from Sainsbury's when they were reduced to 25p each in the January sale last year!

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished cake...

And a few days later after I cut into it to give the first couple of slices to family friends as we were seeing them for dinner. I'm no expert - until recently I didn't really like Christmas cakes at all - but it tasted pretty good, like a Christmas cake ought to taste!

I'm sharing this with Love Cake, hosted by Ness at Jibber Jabber UK, as her theme is winter wonderland.


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