This is a recipe for your special celebration cake, based on various recipes including a Scottish recipe for Paradise cake which includes crystallised pineapple, cutting through the cloying sweetness of some fruit cake recipes.
Again no saturated fat, no hydrogenated fat using a lower total quantity of liquid vegetable fat.
There is no need for special equipment, no frantic beating. A large mixing bowl, a set of scales would be useful, a fork, spoon.
This cake has such a large amount of fruit in it, that the fruit cannot sink to the bottom.
You will need a 20cm or 8in baking tin with a loose base, if possible to aid turning the cake out after baking. Line the base with cooking parchment paper, if you have it, to further aid handling after baking.
225 gm sultanas, soaked beforehand in ginger wine, or spirits, or even fruit juice, to give the cake added moisture. Just enough liquid to make them swell up.
225 gm (1.5 cups) plain flour, sifted. Plain flour is used as the flour is there to keep all the fruit and nuts together.
2 tsp mixed spice. For Christmas cake try using 3 tsp mixed spice.
100 gm or 1/2 cup vegetable oil (rapeseed oil is good).
150 gm sugar (1/2 cup).
1 Tbsp treacle only for Christmas cake.
150 gm crystallised pineapple pieces .
200 gm glace cherries.
200 gm mixed crystallised peel.
100 gm walnut pieces provided that no one who is likely to eat the cake is allergic to nuts.
Soak sultanas overnight if possible, using your chosen liquid. If short of time, place the sultanas in a microwavable container and micro for a couple of minutes, stir and cover for 10 mins.
Measure and sift the flour and spices together into a large bowl.
Whip the 3 eggs in a jug with a fork. Add the vegetable oil. Add the sugar and the warmed treacle if used and mix them till they are well combined.
Now add the liquid ingredients in the jug to the sieved flour in the large bowl, and mix till the flour is incorporated into the liquid ingredients.
Now add all the fruit and nuts to the large bowl and mix with a large spoon until they are incorporated.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Smooth off the top of the mixture with a spoon, making a slight depression towards the centre of the cake. This will allow for the centre to end up after cooking with a flat top.
Place in a preheated combination micro if available, at 150 C plus warm micro for 1 hour. If using a fan heated oven, cook at 150 C for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Check towards the end of the cooking time with a skewer or thin knife, to see if the cake is cooked when the skewer should come out clean. If not then leave for some further time until the skewer comes out clean.
Set aside to cool and loosen cake from the tin.
Once fully cooled, make further holes in the top of the cake with the skewer. Then feed the cake with about 6 – 9 Tbsp of your chosen spirit,such as brandy and allow to soak into the cake overnight, in a covered container.
Icing the cake.
Place your cake on a cake platter or board.
Brush the top and sides of the cake with some warmed thick jam using a pastry brush. This is to help the marzipan to stick to the cake. Allow to cool.
Roll out 500 gm of prepared marzipan on a flat surface, dusted with sieved icing sugar. For Christmas cake, use golden icing to contrast with the white icing. Also dust the rolling pin with the sieved icing sugar before using. Roll out evenly in all directions till the marzipan forms a circle large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Place your rolling pin across the centre of the marzipan and with your other hand gently let the circle of marzipan hang from the rolling pin. Transfer the circle of marzipan onto the cake so that it covers the top of the cake and hangs down both sides of the cake.
Now use your fingers to gently press the marzipan onto the top of the cake, and then press onto the sides of the cake, until it is well attached to the cake. Set asside.
Making the Royal Icing.
A hand held mixer would be useful for the making of the Royal Icing and save a lot of hard beating with a whisk or spoon!!
1 sachet of Egg White powder mixed with 60 ml of warm water, is the equivalent of 2 egg whites. The egg white powder is pasteurised for protection as it will not be cooked.
500 gm of sieved icing sugar.
2 or 3 tsp of lemon juice.
2 tsp edible grade glycerine. This helps to prevent the royal icing going too hard.
Method of making the Royal Icing.
Mix the egg white powder with the warm water with the mixer until smooth and frothy.
Start adding small quantities of the sieved icing sugar until they are incorporated into the egg whites. Add the glycerine and the lemon juice and continue mixing until all the icing sugar has been incorporated. Keep beating for about 5 mins.
Covering the cake with the Royal Icing.
Christmas Cakes are very easy to finish off if you aim for a “snow peaked” effect.
Take a pallet knife (a springy bladed knife) if you have one, and put it into hot water. Then spread the royal icing over the top and sides of cake until it is roughly an even depth all over the cake. Start at the top of the cake and work the icing down the sides. Then take the tip of the knife and touch and lift the surface of the icing until it forms peaks and looks like snowdrifts all over the cake. Really very easy to do and looks quite professional.
Add any decoration to your cake at this stage before the royal icing sets.