Diary Post

Christmas pastry!

Ingredients for a traditional christmas cake

500g Tesco Luxury Dried Mixed Fruit
60g glace cherries
85ml cooking brandy or cold tea
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
175g butter
175g dark brown sugar
1tbsp black treacle
3 eggs
175g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
60g whole almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)
1tsp ground mixed spice
Marzipan layer:
1tbsp sieved apricot jam
400g ready-made ready-rolled marzipan
50g icing sugar
1 egg white
350g icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice

Christmas pastry!

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1. Remove zest from orange and lemon with a fine grater, and squeeze the juices. Put all zest and juice in a bowl with mixed dried fruit and glace cherries. Add the brandy or tea, cover with clingfilm and soak for a minimum of 1 hr or overnight.
2. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, preferably with a removable base.
3. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas 3, fan 130°C.
4. With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and black treacle until paler and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating each one in thoroughly before adding the next one. In another bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice and stir to mix thoroughly. Then add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and fold in gently until thoroughly combined.
5. Add the soaked fruit and all the juices, plus the nuts if liked. Fold gently together until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Turn the mixture into your prepared cake tin and flatten the surface. Place in the centre of the oven, and bake for 2 hrs or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Use a sharp knife or skewer to test the cake. If there is still wet mixture on the blade, bake for another 20-30 mins. It should come out clean.
6. When the cake is cooked, cool for an hour in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack. You can pierce the cake all over with a skewer and add another tbsp brandy to soak in if liked.
7. The cake can be kept wrapped in foil or clingfilm in a tin for up to 2 months. When you are ready to finish the cake, warm the apricot jam to soften, and brush over the whole cake. Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, and roll out half the marzipan.
8. Cut a 20cm circle drawing round the cake tin as a pattern. Cut out a band of marzipan, again using the side of the tin as a guide.
9. Place the circle on the top, and stick the band around the sides, pressing into place and filling any gaps.
10. If possible, allow the marzipan layer to dry overnight.
11. To make the icing, beat the sifted icing sugar with the egg white and lemon juice until glossy. Spread over the cake with a palette knife, forming soft peaks to look like snow drifts. Decorate with edible silver balls or other decorations.

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