Mary Berry has made a Christmas cake recipe her for as long as Paul Hollywood had been living. He knows what he’s talking about.
For the cake
- 150ml/¼pt brandy or sherry, plus extra for feeding
- 2 oranges, zest only
- 250g/9oz butter, softened
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 75g/3oz blanched almonds, chopped
- 250g/9oz plain flour
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
- 175g/6oz raisins
- 350g/12oz natural glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
- 500g/1lb 2oz currants
- 350g/12oz sultanas
- 250g/9oz light muscovado sugar
- 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
For the covering
- icing sugar
- about 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved
- 675g/1lb 8oz marzipan
For the royal icing
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1½ tsp glycerine
- 3 free-range eggs, whites only
- 675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
- For the cake, put all the dried fruit, including cherries, into a large bowl, pour the brandy and stir in orange peel. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak for three days, stirring daily.
- Grease and line a deep 23 cm/9 in, round Tin with a double layer of greased sheet of paper. Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
- Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, molasses and almonds into a very large bowl and beat Well (preferably with free standing electric mixer). Add flour and spices and stir until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
- Bake in centre of oven for about 4-4 ½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and golden brown. Check out after two hours, and if the cake is the perfect color, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the Tin.
- When cool, Pierce the cake with a fine skewer interval and feed with a little brandy. Wrap the cake really cold in two layers of a piece of paper and then again in foil and store in a cool place for up to three months, eating at the interval with another brandy. (Do not remove the lining paper when saving as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
- A week before you want to serve, began covering the cake.
- To cover, stand upside-down cake, flat side of the most important, on the cake Board that is 5 cm/2 in. larger than the size of the cake.
- Brush the sides and the top of the cake with apricot jam.
- Dust-free surface with icing sugar and then roll out the marzipan for about 5 cm/2 in. larger than the surface of the cake. Keep moving as you roll the marzipan, checking that it is not sticking to the work surface. Dust the work surface with icing sugar to another as needed.
- Carefully lift the marzipan over the cake using a rolling pin. Soft level and smooth the top of the pasta with the rolling pin, then ease marzipan cake, smoothing down the sides at the same time. If you are careful, you should be able to cover the cake with the marzipan there is excess to trim but, if needed, tidy trim excess marzipan from the base of the cake with a sharp knife. Cover cake loosely with parchment pastry and leave for a few days to dry before adding the Royal icing.
- For Royal icing, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they become foamy. Mix in icing sugar flour tablespoonful at a time. You can do this with an electric handheld whisk, but keep the speed low.
- Stir in lemon juice and Glycerin and beat until icing is very stiff and white and stands on the Summit.
- Cover the surface of the icing tightly with clingfilm and store in a cool place until needed.
- To ice the cake, place all the icing to top cake. Spread evenly to the top of the cake with a knife and palette. For the effect of the snow peaks, use a smaller palette knife for rough icing.
- Leave the cake loosely covered overnight to the icing to harden slightly, then wrap or store in an airtight container in a cool place until needed.