This light fruit christmas cake was Mummy’s favourite. She used royal icing and made a snow scene with Santa standing on top – thanks for the memories.
Makes 35 pieces
– 50g (2oz) whole almonds 200g (7oz) sultanas 200g (7oz) raisins
– 100g (31/2oz) chopped candied peel
– 50g (2oz) currants 50g (2oz) real glacé cherries, cut in quarters
– 50g (2oz) ground almonds 225g (8oz) butter, softened 225g (8oz) caster sugar
– 4 large or 5 small eggs, preferably free-range and organic
– grated rind of 1 orange
– 275g (10oz) plain flour pinch of salt
– 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
– 1 teaspoon milk
– 175g (6oz) caster sugar
– 175g (6oz) ground almonds
– 1 small egg, preferably free-range and organic
– 2 teaspoons whiskey
– 1 drop of almond extract 1 egg white, beaten, or apricot jam icing sugar, for dusting the worktop
– vodka, for brushing over the almond paste
– 600g (11/4lb) ready-to-roll fondant icing
– Santas, candied angelica or holly leaves (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Line a 20.5cm x 30.5cm (8in x 12in) cake tin that is 5cm (2in) deep with parchment paper. Mum cooked this cake in an oval enamel tin with a lid.
2. Blanch the whole almonds in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, rub off the skins and chop. Mix together all the fruit, candied peel and the ground and chopped almonds.
3. Cream the butter until it’s really soft, then add in the caster sugar and beat until light and creamy. Whisk the eggs and add them in bit by bit, beating well between each addition. Add the grated orange rind.
4. Sieve the flour and salt together, then stir in the flour and all of the fruit.
5. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and stir it thoroughly through the mixture.
6. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50–60 minutes. Allow to get cold, then turn out of the tin and wrap in greaseproof paper until you are ready to ice it.
7. To make the almond paste, sieve the caster sugar and mix it with the ground almonds. Beat the egg and add the whiskey and almond extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to a stiff paste (you may not need all the egg).
8. To ice the cake, brush the top of the cake with beaten egg white or apricot jam. Sprinkle the worktop with icing sugar. Roll the almond paste into a rectangle slightly larger than the cake. Roll the almond paste over the rolling pin, then unroll it over the cake. Press carefully onto the cake. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
9. When you are ready to apply the fondant icing, brush the almond paste with vodka or another non-coloured spirit. Next, apply the fondant icing. Roll it out slightly larger than the cake. Roll it over the rolling pin and then unroll it over the cake. Press lightly.
10. Decorate if you wish with Santas, candied angelica or holly, but it looks great just as it is.
11. Cut the cake into 35 pieces (5 across x 7 on the length) or to whatever size you prefer.
A Simply Delicious Christmas, first published in 1989, is a much-loved cookbook, with tattered, well-worn copies to be found in most households in the country. Twenty-five years on, Darina Allen is back with a stunning new edition, revised and updated to reflect today’s tastes. You’ll still find all the traditional favourites here – Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey, St Stephen’s Day Pie, the famous Plum Pudding and the Chocolate Christmas Tree – as well as over one hundred new recipes to suit modern palates, including succulent Roast Turkey Crown with Harissa, Christmas Quesadillas and a spectacular Plum Pudding Ice Cream.
A Simply Delicious Christmas caters to every need over the festive season, from planning ahead for the Christmas Day feast to suggestions for drinks and nibbles for entertaining, as well as recipes to accommodate those with food intolerances and ideas for edible presents. Buy your copy www.gillmacmillanbooks.ie.