Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Festive Bakes ~ Quickie Rustic Christmas Cake

We are nearly there ladies, only a few days to go then it's Christmas!
All the preparations that we've all been rushing around doing will come to fruition very soon, so I thought I'd end my Festive Bakes series with a cake that really personifies Christmas and that is, of course the traditional Christmas Cake.
Normally Christmas Cake is baked at least 3 or 4 weeks ahead and 'fed' weekly with brandy or rum, however this recipe can be baked now, no problems even though its only a couple of days to Christmas Day!
So if you still want to bake your own this year then you can!
OK my lovelies, for the final festive time, Mrs Santa aprons on.......... lets bake!
~ Rustic Christmas Cake ~
Pre heat your oven to 130 degrees and grease & line the base & sides of a 18cm square cake tin. Do not skip the lining as you will need it to remove the cake from it's tin once baked!
~ Ingredients ~
200g Dark Muscavado Sugar
175g Chopped Butter
700g Mixed Dried Fruit
50g Glace Cherries
Rind & Juice of 1 Orange
100ml Dark Rum or Brandy, or Orange Juice
85g Pecan Nuts
3 Large Eggs, Beaten
85g Ground Almonds
200g Plain flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Cinnamon
~ Topping To Decorate ~
250g Pack Of Marzipan
2 tbsp Apricot Jam Warmed
500g Fondant Icing Sugar
Glace Cherries
Fresh Sprigs Of Holly Leaves
~ Method ~
Put the sugar, butter, dried fruit,cherries, orange rind and orange juice into a large saucepan.
Pour in the rum, brandy or orange juice if you are tee total. 
Put over a medium heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until all the butter has melted.
Reduce the heat a little and then let the mixture bubble gently uncovered for 10 mins, keep any eye on the pan and stir the mixture occasionally to make sure it isn't 'catching'  (burning) on the bottom of the pan.
The put to one side for 30mins to cool.
Once cool stir in the pecans, almonds & eggs, the sift in the flour, baking powder and spices, taking care to mix gently but very well until everything is combined properly.
Spoon your mixture into your prepared baking tin, and level off using the back of your spoon.
Bake in the oven firstly for 45mins, then turn your oven down to 120 degrees and cook for a further 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Once baked allow to cool in the tin. Once cooled completely turn out the cake onto a wire rack, it should pop out easily as you have lined the tin with greaseproof paper.
Peel off the greaseproof paper to reveal your baked fruit cake, it should peel of cleanly as you have left your cake to cool first.
Now your cake is ready for decorating.
Warm up your Apricot Jam in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, the brush the top of your cake with the jam, this will act as the 'glue' that your marzipan will stick to.
Next, flour your work surface with icing sugar and roll out your marzipan until it is big enough to cover the top of your cake. Turning your cake upside down, so the jam side is down, place it on top of the marzipan and trim the excess away, using a knife.
Turn your cake the right way up and gently press any areas of marzipan down that haven't quite stuck to the jam properly. 
Now mix up your fondant icing until the consistency is fairly thick, or spreading consistency. Using a palette knife spread over the top of your cake.
I wanted my cake to be quite rustic looking and homemade so I wasn't looking for a really neat finish and have allowed my icing to run down the sides of the cake a little.
Finally you need a finish touch, glace cherries and Holly leaves.
Firstly wash your Holly leaves in luke warm soapy water and dry off, then to decorate pop one glace cherry with two Holly leaves onto your icing, pressing them down slightly so they stick.
Add as many as you like until you are happy with the finish.
The side of your cake will be bare, let the icing set for a hour or so, then the final finishing touch will be to add a festive ribbon of your choice, place around the sides of your cake and tie in a bow.
 I've used a green & gold one as it matches the Holly leaves.

I wanted a Country Cottage homespun feel to my cake hence the simple finish, but you can decorate your cake any way you like and if you prefer a more traditional look with smooth royal icing then go for it!

Anyone can give this recipe a try as it's so easy, so why not give this a go girls!

I've really enjoyed making and sharing my festive recipes with you all this year and I hope you've all enjoyed reading and perhaps making them yourselves too.

A very Happy Christmas to you all my lovelies!!

Love Jenny xx

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