Some things take time and Christmas cake is one of those things.
I remember my mom gathering all the ingredients for Christmas cake and stirring together a big bowl of jewel like glazed fruits. This usually took place during October. Once baked and well wrapped the little cakes were put into a cool place until the Christmas season. Mom would sometimes wrap up a cake in brown paper, tie it with a ribbon and give it as a gift.
This recipe has no nuts in it and there is no brandy in the cake, but there is a step in the directions that calls for dipping cheesecloth in apricot brandy and then wrapping each cake it the cheesecloth. The brandy helps to preserve the cake, but you can omit this step.
You still have time to bake Christmas cake.
- 2 3/4 pounds raisins (approx. 7 cups)
- 2 pounds glazed cherries, cut in half (I like to use the mixed red and green ones)
- 2 3/4 pounds glazed mixed fruit
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- In a large bowl stir together all fruit.
- Drizzle pineapple juice over fruit.
- Add flour and stir to dredge the fruit.
- Set mixture aside.
- 2 1/2 cups margarine, room temperature
- 1 cup golden corn syrup
- 1 cup apricot jam
- 12 large eggs
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- Cream margarine. Add syrup and jam and mix well.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
- Sift dry ingredients together.
- Mix into creamed mixture.
- Pour creamed mixture over fruit and stir with a wooden spoon until fruit is well incorporated into the creamed batter.
- As you can see in the photo I am using very old cake pans. They are thin with a removable bottom. You can use any pans or even soup tins, but you do need to still follow the instructions for lining pans.
- Line pans with 3 layers of brown paper. I cut clean brown bags for this.
- Next cut parchment paper and line the whole pan. The cake will bake on the parchment. The brown paper helps to prevent burning and makes for even baking.
- Divide the batter between the pans. Level with the back of a spatula.
- Heat oven to 275ºF. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven. This is very important as it helps to keep the cake moist.
- Place cakes on middle rack in oven. Bake for 5 hours.
- After 2 hours in the oven, lay a piece of brown paper, or parchment paper with tin foil over it to prevent over browning.
- Add more water to water pan if it dries out during baking.
- Once baked, cool cakes in pans.
- When totally cool, remove cakes from pans. Remove brown paper and parchment.
- Cut each cake into 4.
- Optional step: cut a sheet of cheese cloth into pieces that will wrap around each cake. Pour enough apricot brandy over the pieces of cheese cloth and let soak. Wrap each piece of cake in a single layer of brandy dipped cheese cloth. Wrap as you would a gift.
- Now wrap each cake in saran wrap. If you have used the cheese cloth wrap saran right over it. If not just wrap cake. Now wrap all cakes once more in saran.
- After double wrapping in saran, wrap each cake in foil.
- Store in a container (I used cookie tins, but you could use a box or Tupperware) Place in a cool place where temperature stays even, or in the refrigerator.
- Allow cake to 'rest' for at least 6-8 weeks. After this freeze or keep in refrigerator.