As Storm Angus approaches the UK, I’ve been creating my own chaos in the kitchen making Christmas cakes. Now, my grandmother would have made the cakes and puddings ages ago, laying them down for a good three months – heavily spiked with brandy – to mature. I’m hoping that by soaking the dried fruit in brandy and spices for a month, I’ve gained a head start.
So, with a little help from my friend, this is what I did:

I use the best ingredients I can. Although we are generally low-carb in this house nowadays, we make an exception at Christmas and Easter and use ingredients – including sugar, butter, flour, and dried fruits – to make this traditional English rich fruit cake. And spice – lots of spice.

I tried using the big mixer to beat the eggs and sugar last year, but wasn’t happy with the outcome – the cake’s texture was sort of grainy and uncake-like.

This year, I’ve resorted to the hand beaters to create a smooth and creamy combination – vital to get the best result. Then I added the eggs. Normally, I’d beat these in a separate bowl before adding to the butter and sugar, but I thought I’d experiment this year and plonk them in the mixture. Esker thought this a dubious move.

Now comes one of my favourite parts – sieving the flour, salt, and spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, ginger, black pepper) – releasing the most aromatic and divine scents that always makes me feel Christmassy. Combine carefully so not to knock the air out of the mixture.


Added to the buttercream, it looks like this.


Now for the boozy dried fruits with extra preserved ginger, orange zest (from unwaxed oranges), and cherries (or Child One won’t talk to me). 



I used the big mixer to combine all of the ingredients.

The cake tins are double-lined (the high sides and double thickness helps prevent the top of the cake from burning). The tins are then filled with mix and levelled.


Pop in the oven for two to three hours…

…and here’s the end result.