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Mary Berry's Christmas cake

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Mary Berry's classic Victorian Christmas cake
  • Serves: 12

  • Prep time:

    (plus 3 days for soaking the fruit)
  • Cooking time:

    (may need an extra 15 mins)
  • Total time:

  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Costs: Mid-price

 

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

That's goodtoknow

cartoon image of chef

You should make this cake at least three weeks ahead of Christmas, for if eaten too early it's crumbly. 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.

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.

Mary Berry's Christmas Collection is available from Amazon, RRP £16.99

Average rating

  • 4
(357 ratings)

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Your comments

tarotmac

or you can freez it till about a week before you want it then feed with brandy. this will age it nicely

tarotmac

stops them all sinking to Btm of cake

Julie

Made this cake last year, really nice moist tasting cake. Enjoyed by everyone.

Brian

Looks to me as if the oven was not warm enough. Do yo have an oven thermometer? The controls on many ovens seem very poor to me.

nicolee

I used this recipe to attempt my first ever Christmas cake. It was a DISASTER! It took forever to cook, much longer than the recipe stated. It was too moist. I only fed it once and even that was took much, had to use kitchen paper to get rid of the excess (I used 2 tbsp at most!) and to top it off, it fell apart so it was all a complete waste!

Sarah Long

This was the best Christmas cake I have ever made, using Sherry for it made a nice change. My family loved it. I am going to make it again for Easter.

Gyl

Made this cake for the first time this last christmas - amaaaazzzing!!!!! Needed nearer 5 hours cooking but it was the best christmas cake ever. Follow the recipe properly and you wont be disappointed.

clare

I wondered this too - I haven't been able to find it yet :(((

Gran

Answers and a question too. Sticky cherries tend to sink to the bottom of the cake, so I cut glace cherries then rinse in warm water and roll in a clean tea towel to dry while I'm chopping other fruit, adding them to cake after other fruit has been coated with flour. Vodka (or gin) - paint on and use as glue between marzipan and fondant icing - the icing smooths on with less air bubbles than if water is used. Royal icing - no spirit required. Also use vodka or gin to mix powdered food colourings to paint onto icing - spirit evaporates quickly so your "painting" dries rapidly. Now for my question. I normally use lots of cream sherry in a fruit cake, and lots more on the outside whilst it's maturing. Made a cake today and only had a small amount of sherry so used that but also added brandy. Once the cake is cooked, can I feed it with sherry or do I have to continue with the brandy which will, presumably, have a stronger flavour?

audreypet

I think it is a briliant cake.

Peter Austen

I am a retired bricklayer and not entirely conversant with cake making so I thought I would have a crack at Mary's cake. Well its quite a long winded affair what with soaking the fruit and all bit I stuck with it , despite my wife's comments that " Thats not the way I'd do it" were rather frequent. Anyway its done and I have to say its quite a success, very rich fruity and flavoursome so well done Mary and thankyou

mumra

I have loved this gorgeous cake every year since the 1980s, when I first found the recipe in Family Circle. I kept the old magazine for years, then, horror! Lost it, so had to rely on memory. The recipe got a bit changed over the years as a result, but today I found it again online. It's soaking the fruit for days that does it. Now I make it for my son in law as a Christmas gift every year as he likes it best even though he is a great Christmas cake connoisseur. This year it will be the authentic version, but adding cranberries. Thanks Mary Berry, your recipe has totally stood the test of time and I know it will be as great this year as ever. However, I'd better get a move on as I'm very late in baking it this year.

Kat

Hey come on now, no need to behave like that. If the lady did not enjoy the cake she is allowed to voice that unless George Orwell's concept of the thought police has been realised here, in the comments page of a Mary Berry recipe. Furthermore, you judge her spelling as if you know this person and her past education, what if this lady has dyslexia? That's a very difficult thing to live with. Anyway, good luck with the cake folks, I hope you enjoy it.

dawn

Hi everyone, I think I made a terrible mistake when baking this cake.. I accidentally had the temperature on at 150, not 140. 10 degrees doesn't seem like a huge amount, but I'd had the cake baking for 90 mins before I realised my mistake. I changed temperature and watched the cake like a hawk before taking it out after 3 hours 10 mins (cake seemed quite firm and no residue on the toothpick- couldn't find the skewers!) but I wonder if I've already done too much damage, ie, dried it out too much? Also, need advice re. storage: is it so necessary to have an airtight container, or does it work to simply store in paper and foil and keep in the cupboard as Mary Berry suggests? For the life of me I've been unable to find an airtight container. Thanks!

Heather

Does anyone know if Tesco are doing the pre done dry ingredients this year .Heather Chelmsford

Della

UPDATE!! I made my cake without problem and used some extra mix for some little tasters. It's delicious! and soaking the fruits for 3 days really helps keep in the moisture as does retaining the baking paper. FAB!!

Munch

Most recipes use medium eggs. I'm going to use medium

rowena55

what size eggs do I use

rowena55

Hi can anyone tell me what size eggs to use

SL

can I make the cake without adding sugar? Has any one tried because its sweet any way with fruits.

Chloe

Does it have to be made a couple of months before or could you make it in December ?

wendy

just soaking my fruit in orange juice, realised I have an 8ins round tin will this be ok to use.

Della

Soaking my fruits as I post. I have added some figs and apricots, as currants are hard to come by here in Belgium. Fingers crossed in 3 days my cake will be baked to perfection.

Della

I didn´t add nuts last year, turned out perfect.

Della

It's entirely up to you, you will be eating it. As preferance I have added figs and apricots. Good luck.

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