Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas glitter

It's Christmas day - and my treat to my family (and myself) was to attempt to make my first ever Christmas cake.  OK, so I didn't attempt to make it today, that would be silly - but we cut into it and managed to eat a slice, and I was pleasantly surprised.  The fear with a Christmas cake is that is takes so long to bake, (or as my Grandfather used to say "to dry it out"), and then the weeks of feeding it (cherry brandy in my case, as I didn't have any normal brandy), how do you know that all that time, money and energy is going into something that is tasty and works.  Had I burnt it in the hours of baking, should I have risked the chocolate fruit cake instead of a traditional fruit cake, does the cherry brandy make it too sickly?  So it was lovely to cut into it, and see my family really enjoy it (and go back for seconds!)  I even quite enjoyed the decorating, and have some fun ideas for next year now I know how to do the icing and marzipan!

So, how did I get there?  Well, in the office we'd been discussing cakes and someone had found a recipe for a chocolate fruit cake, which just sounded a little it different - enough to make me want to give it ago.  The recipe was from the trusted BBC Good Food ( which then surprises me that it didn't quite go to plan!

I had a friend over the evening I decided to make it, and she's quite practical when it comes to lining tins - so she happily got on with that aspect while I measured out the ingredients, melted the butter and chocolate into the fruit and got everything mixed and ready.
Sue proudly displaying the double-lined cake tine

Melting butter and chocolate into the fruit

To be honest, it took us about the same amount of time to line and prepare the mix (she's very attentive to detail!)  Then the mix was poured in and popped into the oven.  The recipe stated 1.5 - 1.45 hours...hmmm!  NOPE!  Having read a few of the comments on the page, there's varying times ppl had to cook, am quite surprised, which is why I was worried I'd massively over baked it, and having started in an evening, you can imagine how late I finished!  Nearly midnight by the time the skewer was coming out clean, I was very tired and slightly irritated by then, I guess this is my inexperience of fruit cake baking that lead me to massively underestimate!  I knew they could take ages, but thought there was something in this being a chocolate that made it take less time?  Can you tell I've not gotten over it yet??  I've learnt my lesson though, but am surprised at Good Food for such a variation in their time to mine.

Finally baked!

Anyway, so once the cake was finally baked and left to cool over night, I then proceeded to feed it Cherry Brandy every few days leading up to the week before Christmas.  Stabbing the cake and pouring a tablespoon over the top; then halfway though the countdown, I turned the cake upside down and would feed from the bottom.  Just trying to make sure it wouldn't be too dry.

Then, researching how to place marzipan and icing, I found some fab videos online, and realised it's not as hard as I'd been imagining, just lots of rubbing down of the top and smoothing the edges. Definitely happy to do this again now I know how easy it is.  Although, having seen other Christmas cake decorations I'm thinking I could have done more with mine, but for a first attempt, am pleased to have it looking fairly neat and festive, and most importantly glittery! Very festive!

Glittery cake

Glittery cake
And finally, we cut into the cake yesterday (Christmas eve), it took some effort to cut through - me getting nervous that it's just a charred mess under the icing - but it all looks OK, and feels moist, so we share it out and everyone happily chomps into it.  Couldn't taste the cherry brandy, but I think that's help to keep it moist, but there's a slight chocolate taste that adds to the richness of the cake - really quite pleased - and my first Christmas cake!  I think I'll try again next year, may be look for a smaller recipe, or split it before bringing home, so work can have some too..... more blog posts to follow on the festive office bakes I've produced over the last month.  Have spent too much time baking and not enough blogging :)

Merry Christmas!