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Christmas cake - some questions please from CC newbie

(44 Posts)
PacificDogwood Sun 03-Nov-13 15:41:54

I have never, ever attempted a Christmas cake, but this year is The Year grin.

So, timing: do I make it roundabout now? Keep it wrapped and 'feed' it every now and then?

I have fruit soaked in brandy so maybe don't have to feed too much more - the DC should be able to have some too IMO wink

If making it now (or realistically next weekend, I've just dug MiL's recipe out) I presumably only decorate/ice it closer to Christmas, non?

Recipe says "4 to 4 1/2 hrs at 140 C" - does that sound about right? Seems terribly long...

Any other tips gratefully received.

Taffeta Sun 03-Nov-13 15:47:17

I make mine around now, yes pre soak dried fruit in booze, then pin prick cake with cocktail stick either end and feed with more booze weekly. Marzipan and ice just before you want to start eating it we usually start ours early dec and offer to guests etc as it never gets eaten otherwise. I make a 20cm square one.

I cook mine for about an hour less than Delia recommends. Her recipe is v old and ovens work much better these days!

ThePearShapedToad Sun 03-Nov-13 15:50:31

My recipe is a good housekeeping one, and yes is 4-5.5 hours. Christmas cakes are heavy and full of fruit so do generally require longer cooking times. Make sure you wrap the outside of your tin in brown paper to prevent the edges burning during such long periods baking

I use half a bottle of brandy to soak the fruits before baking and then the other half for feeding before it gets iced, and it still doesn't taste overly boozy IME

PacificDogwood Sun 03-Nov-13 15:55:09

Oh, thank you smile.

Yes, fruit is already soaked, no worries there.

It says in my recipe (handwritten by MiL so I have no idea where it's from) to cover the top of the cake with baking parchment too to prevent burning. I'll have to watch that as I have a fan oven.

And yes, I think we will start eating from well before Christmas Day too <<flashbacks to Christmas 2010 when MiL turned about with The World's Largest Christmas Cake some of which was still around at Easter. The Easter Bunny must have finished it off because it was gone after Easter bin blush>>

PacificDogwood Sun 03-Nov-13 15:55:26

turned up, sorry

Taffeta Sun 03-Nov-13 16:05:26

Sounds like Delia to me. Also involves parchment round sides of tin and Blue Peter shite with string. Prepping the sodding tin takes me longer than making the cake.

I am a baker not a crafter.

PacificDogwood Sun 03-Nov-13 16:07:02


D'you know, it might be a Mary Berry recipe - a conversation comes to mind I had with Mil years ago.
No string (or twiggy/pebbly shit) in this recipe.

nearlyreadytopop Tue 05-Nov-13 08:41:11

so the paper goes on the outside of the tin?grin

prettybird Tue 05-Nov-13 08:56:52

Double layer of parchment/grease proof paper (double the height of the tin) around the inside of the tin plus two layers on the base. Fold the parchment up a cm and snip all along the length of it so that it sits nicely in the tin (if it's a circular tin). Good greasing of the tin and then the first layer of parchment makes sure they stick. (and the 2nd layer if it is only grease proof and not silicon parchment)

Double layer of double height brown paper round the outside of the tin, tied in place with string.

Extra circle or square of parchment or brown paper ready to put on the top of the cake for the last hour of baking.

Yes, it does take nearly as long to prep as it does to prepare the cake mix! grin

Watch with a fan oven that it doesn't dry out with such a long bake. Make sure you've adjusted the heat according to the oven guidelines (iirc, 140C conventional oven = 120 or 130C for a fan oven)

Taffeta Tue 05-Nov-13 16:53:39

Nearly - see step 4.

How easy it looks! hmm

PacificDogwood Tue 05-Nov-13 16:55:24

Good lord, that sounds complicated, but thanks, prettybird, v clear instructions.

I may need to prepare the tin on one day, and then do the actual cake on another....

Why do I need brown paper outside the tin? confused

PacificDogwood Tue 05-Nov-13 16:57:31

Great linkie, thank, Taffeta - answers my question too blush

prettybird Tue 05-Nov-13 18:11:08

The brown paper is just an extra insulating layer, to make sure that the outside doesn't dry out/burn before the inside is cooked.

I actually keep my brown paper and string from one year to the next! blushgrin - that way, at least I know I've got it. I just keep it at the bottom of my "cake tins" drawer. smile

Taffeta Tue 05-Nov-13 18:28:12

I keep mine too, prettybird. It still takes me half an hour.

You basically need 3 hands. Two to hold the paper and one to tie the string.

prettybird Tue 05-Nov-13 18:34:25

I'm with you on that. I always block out the cursing and remember again the next year. Wet string helps as you don't need to try to tie it so tight as it'll contract as it dries.

nearlyreadytopop Tue 05-Nov-13 18:38:02

ah slightly less confused now. Have baked mine with paper on the inside of a greased tin.
And agree about the cooking time, I have one rather brown cake. Will copious amounts of brandy save it?

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 05-Nov-13 18:45:57

I made the Mary Berry one last year, it was lovely. It does have dried apricots in which I think I left out last year - sounds like a weird idea but putting them in to see what its like this year.

I use the lakeland foldaway cake tin which I just line with baking parchment - the same as any other cake. The only thing I do differently is cover the cake once the top has cooked to stop it burning.

SecretNutellaFix Tue 05-Nov-13 18:51:15

Mine took 5 hours at gas mark 1-1.5.

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 05-Nov-13 19:19:49

Yeah I forgot how long they took to cook and ended up having to stay up late blush

PacificDogwood Tue 05-Nov-13 22:29:39

<licks pencil>

Wet string
3 hands
Keep paper provided this year's attempt does not turn in to a total disaster

Yes, brandy improves everything most things.
I have fan assisted electric oven - that's going to be interesting... hmm
Dried apricots are lush - they are so going in grin

I am feeling quite the expert now grin

prettybird Tue 05-Nov-13 22:34:49

No matter the recipe I always add extra cinnamon (in particular) and nutmeg as I love the spices.

Make sure to cook it in the evening when you are around to enjoy the Domestic Goddessness of the smell as it's cooking smilecake

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 05-Nov-13 23:12:58

Oh gosh I agree I dont think I ever follow recipe amounts of cinnamon or nutmeg. I have a sniff of my cake whenever I feed it grin

HelloBoys Wed 06-Nov-13 15:19:41

Hi - I am making Christmas Cake for first time this year. Is Delia recipe the way to go and what size tin?

HelloBoys Wed 06-Nov-13 15:20:25

Pacific - fan ovens are fine - I have one - generally you can covert times and temperatures for them.

ThePearShapedToad Wed 06-Nov-13 17:06:01

Even though we've all stated 5 hours or so, actually remind yourself to start earlier than you think, or you'll be waiting up till 2am to watch it finish baking grin

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