“What’s a Christmas Cake?”, ask my American friends. Aside from the obvious (a cake eaten at Christmas), this British cake is made primarily of fruit, and brandy. In the 10+ years I lived in Australia, and the nearly 3 years I’ve lived in the US, I’ve found that finding the ingredients to make a ‘proper’ Christmas cake can be difficult. I still have not found anywhere I can buy a cake ‘frill’ – i.e. wrap, decoration (something like this).
The recipe I use comes from the book pictured below, and of course, it makes the best cake ever.
To help those Brit expats in the US looking for ingredients/substitutions I present here my version of this recipe – an ‘expat-proof’ US Christmas cake. Photos are at the end of the post.
Ingredients for cake
- 8 oz butter
- 8 oz soft brown sugar (to soften rock hard sugar, put it in a bowl with a moist paper towel for a few hours/overnight)
- 6 small eggs (no such thing in the US, use big eggs)
- 9 oz self raising flour
- 5 oz plain flour
- pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of mixed spice (no such thing in the US, use Pumpkin Pie Spice from Trader Joe’s – it’s basically the same thing)
- 2 oz blanched almonds, chopped
- 2 lb mixed fruit: sultanas, raisins, currants (of course, sultanas don’t appear to exist here, so just raisins and currants)
- including 2 oz mixed peel if desired (not sure if it exists in the US – based on my other experiences, I’m going to say it doesn’t).
- 8.5 fl oz brandy (cheap). Soak the fruit in the brandy for at least 24 hours before making the cake.
- 4 oz glacé cherries (maraschino cherries)
- lemon – 1/2 juice, all rind
- 2 tablespoons black treacle (doesn’t exist, use molasses)
So the recipe is essentially as follows: cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time with a little sifted flour, add rest of dry ingredients, add rest of wet ingredients, add everything else. Allow everyone in the house to stir the mixture and make a wish (very important).
Put the batter in a 9″ round or 8″ square tin. Bake in oven at 140C/285F for about 3 hours.
Ingredients for Icing
- 1 lb marzipan (something else I couldn’t find in California – but did find in Massachusetts – so I got some from the internet which arrived JUST in time).
- Apricot jam/preserve
- 6 cups of icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar).
A few days before Christmas, smear the cake with the jam, roll out marzipan about 1/4 in thick and cover the cake, then add the first layer of icing. The next day (at least), when the icing has hardened, add another layer. Decorate if you can.
Voila! Merry Christmas!
Here are the ingredients and the recipe: