You can make Mary Berry's sherry-infused, Victorian-style Christmas cake well ahead of the big day - in fact, the longer you leave it, the better it will taste! But the recommendation is to make it at least three weeks prior to Christmas, for if eaten too early it's crumbly.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
(plus 3 days for soaking the fruit)
Cooking time: 4 hours
(may need an extra 15 minutes)
Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Skill Level: Bit of effort
- 175g (6 oz) raisins
- 350g (12 oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
- 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
- 350g (12oz) sultanas
- 150ml (¼ pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
- Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 250g (9oz) butter, softened
- 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
- 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
- 175g (6oz) plain flour
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
To finish and decorate Mary Berry's Christmas cake:
- About 3 tbsp apricot jam, sieved and warmed
- Icing sugar
- 675g shop-bought almond paste
- Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake
- Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Fan 120ºC/Gas Mark 1.
- Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4½ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
- When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
- Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.
To prepare the Christmas cake ahead:
Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead - this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.
Good to Know: If you don't want to use alcohol, use the same quantity of orange juice. Instead of covering with icing, you could brush warmed apricot jam over the cake, then arrange glace fruits and nuts on top.
If you're going to try your hand at baking, don't forget your bakeware! We've got all the equipment you need for the perfect results, including baking tins, measuring spoons, cake decorating kits and more! And if you want to make light work of any mixing, take a look at our range of Mixers.
Mary Berry, The Autobiography and the Great Book of Baking are also available at 24studio, as is the Danilo Great British Bake Off Family Organiser 2015, which features easy to follow seasonal recipes for all the family.
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Thanks go to goodtoknow Recipes for Mary berry's Classic Christmas Cake Recipe