English Christmas Cake Recipe
English Christmas Cake
Flavors of England
Total time: more than 2 hours

Prep. time: Under 30 minutes
Waiting time: 30 minutes + 5 days
Baking time: 2 to 2-1/2 hours

Difficulty: Requires a certain dexterity
Chef's Note
As we traveled the winding roads of the English countryside in search of recipes and regional specialties to accompany tea, we discovered in the southwest this traditional recipe for a cake made with raisins and almond paste.

Though you have to allow one night for soaking, 5 days resting time and several hours to make the cake, this recipe is actually very easy to make. If you are pressed for time, you can always serve it New Year's Eve!

Use a 20 cm (8") square cake pan, or a round one 22.5 cm (9") in diameter.

- 225 g (8 oz.) currants
- 225 g (8 oz.) sultanas
- 225 g (8 oz.) dark raisins
- 225 g (8 oz.) softened butter
- 225 g (8 oz.) brown sugar, light or dark
- 225 g (8 oz.) pastry flour, sifted
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) candied cherries, chopped
- 1/2 glass of a blend of brandy and Port
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) vanilla
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) almond extract
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) baking powder
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) allspice

- 550 g (1 lb. 3 oz.) almond paste
- 225 g (8 oz.) apricot jam
- 30-45 ml (2-3 tbsp.) water

Royal icing
- 675 g (1 1/2 lb.) sifted icing sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 15 ml (1 tbsp.) lemon juice
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) glycerine
  1. Place the dried fruit, cherries, brandy, port and the vanilla and almond extracts into a bowl. Let soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150° C (300° F). Grease a 20 cm (8") square or 22.5 cm (9") round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  3. Cream together the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Beat the egg yolks and add them to the butter mixture. Add the dried fruit mixture and combine well.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and allspice. Add to the batter and mix well.
  5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and wait 30 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Place the cake on a rack and let cool.

Icing and decorating the cake

  1. Heat the jam and the water together in a small saucepan to dissolve the jam. Strain and bring to a boil in a clean saucepan. Let simmer until the liquid is smooth and thickened. Brush over the cake.
  2. On a work surface sprinkled with sugar, roll out two-thirds of the almond paste into a rectangle. The width of the rectangle should correspond to the height of the cake, and its length to the cake's circumference. Cover the sides of the cake with this band of almond paste, pressing the ends together to seal.
  3. Roll out the remaining almond paste into a circle or square the same size as the top of the cake. Place onto the cake, and make a nice clean seal with the almond paste around the sides of the cake.
  4. Let dry for 5 to 6 days in a warm room.

Making the icing

  1. Beat the egg whites until very foamy.
  2. Mix in half of the icing sugar with a wooden spoon. As you stir, add in the lemon juice, glycerin and the rest of the sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rest for a few hours, so that a little air can escape from the mixture. If necessary, add a little more sugar to thicken the icing. Ice the cake.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of holly or a few cranberries frosted with egg white and sugar.
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