Simon Holst's Christmas cake recipe - 1 December
Mini Christmas cakes
This is without a doubt Alison's most popular recipe Christmas cake recipe. From letters she has received, we know that it is the only Christmas cake in many households, and, has also seen service at many weddings and christenings.
It has probably most often made as one big cake, but it works well as little cakes too - which make fantastic, attractive and delicious gifts. You can buy small cake tins in assorted sizes, or, you can improvise. We made small cakes using large (about 400g), well cleaned tuna tins, or you can improvise and make cardboard 'tins' (cut out a 20cm square, mark out a 10x10cm base and 5cm sides, then fold up the sides and staple these in place).
For 6-10 mini cakes
1.5kg mixed fruit
450g can crushed pineapple
3 cups high grade flour
1 tsp each cinnamon and mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp lemon essence
6 large eggs
50-100g each glace cherries
100-150g blanched almonds
The day before mixing the cake, put the dried fruit and undrained pineapple in a large frypan. Cover pan, heat until liquid boils then simmer until all juice is absorbed. Leave overnight, or until cold.
Mix flour and spices together and put aside. In a very large bowl, cream butter, sugar and essences until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, adding 2 tablespoons of the spiced flour with each. Stir in prepared (cold) fruit and remaining spiced flour. If mixture seems too soft, add extra flour until mixture will just drop from spoon. Put into baking paper lined tins, level the tops. Decorate with blanched almonds and cherries if you don't plan to ice the cake/s.
Bake mini cakes at 130degC for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, depending on the size of tin used. The cakes are cooked when a skewer pushed to the base of the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take cake/s from tin/s when cold.
For best flavour and texture, wrap the cake(s) in greaseproof paper then in teatowels and leave to stand in a cool place for a few weeks. If preferred, wrap the cake(s) in plastic bags and refrigerate or freeze. DO NOT leave cakes in sealed plastic bags at room temperature, as they may 'sweat' and go mouldy.
Note: Obviously, this mixture will also make 1 larger (23cm cake). This should be baked at 150degC for 1 1/2 hours, then 130degC for about 2 hours longer.