Mid-November is the time of year to bake the annual christmas cake: leaving just enough time over advent for it to be fed and mature. With a mix of alternative Christmas songs playing, it is time to bake.
I must confess, despite the title of this post, I don't subscribe to the idea that there is any one ultimate version of a food. As someone who love to cook and bake, I do have countless personal preferences on ingredients and techniques, but I also love to try new things.
If you're looking for a tried and tested fail-safe christmas cake bake, then I suggest you use the Delia Smith recipe that forms the basis of my own and read no further. However, if you're interested in some of my own personal and opinionated takes on a classic, then read on at your own risk.
1. Say No To Currents
Currents — and candy peel whilst we're at it — are evil and wrong and have no place in a cake, let alone one of the most important cakes of the year. Currents, or "dead flies" as I prefer to call them, are a far lesser dried fruit than so many other great options. My personal preference is for raisins, dried cranberries and dried apricots. I also prefer a dried cherry (preferably sour) over a glacé cherry too. And totally avoid the deplorable ingredient that is candy peel.
But honestly, you do you: stick to 900g in total and you'll be fine. I've never once used the same combination of fruits, and I've not had a disaster yet.
2. Rum Not Brandy
It might seem like sacrilege, but honestly, swapping dark rum in place of brandy is one of the best ideas I've ever had. Sailor Jerry's works — the old recipe even more so — and Bacardi Oakheart is this years choice, and I've every faith it will be just as good. Delia says to soak the fruit in 100ml over night. I find that to be far to stingy. I soak my fruit in lots of rum and that works for me.
3. No Nuts
4. Maple Syrup Not Treacle
Honestly, I just go fed up of having a sticky red tin sat in the cupboard that only gets on tablespoon taken out once a year. So I've given up on treacle and, in danger of becoming someone who puts avocado in a cake and calls it "healthy", replaced it with maple syrup.
5. To Ice Or Not To Ice?
Whenever I do Ice, it is always ready rolled. I have no time for rolling my own icing, let alone making it. I've not decided on whether to ice or not this year, as sometimes even the minimal effort of unrolling single sheets of marzipan and icing seems like too large a barrier to place between the choice to take the cake's first slice and actually being allowed to cut it open. However, I always appreciate the seasonal joy that comes from the look — and additional sugar — of an iced cake, so I expect I will endeavour to do so again this year.
With the cooled cake fed with rum, wrapped in baking parchment and foil, and stored away in an airtight container, it will come out every two weeks to again be splashed in rum up until Christmas arrives.
So, what makes your ultimate christmas cake? What you would put in or leave out?