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Step by Step - Christmas Cake
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The secret to creating a rich moist fruit cake is to start early - fruit cakes will improve with keeping. This recipe is best made 2-3 months before Christmas Day, in October or November. The day before you are going to bake the cake, soak the dried fruit in the Drambuie and orange juice and leave overnight. This ensures that the fruit is plump and moist when it is mixed into the cake. Once the cake is baked, feed with Drambuie every 2-3 weeks until Christmas.
To line a cake tin: grease the tin with a little melted butter. Cut a double strip of parchment paper approximately 15cm high and 85cm long. Fold back about 2cm lengthways and snip at regular intervals. Press snugly around the sides of the tin with the snipped edge on the base. Cut 3 squares of parchment to cover the base of the tin.
If a dome forms during cooking, just before decorating the cake, neatly slice off the top for a smooth flat surface.
Every 2-3 weeks, prick the surface of the cake with a fine skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp Drambuie. Feeding the cake in this way, as it matures, ensures a moist cake. Do not to overfeed, otherwise the cake will become soggy and more like a Christmas pudding.
Store the Christmas cake in a cool, dry place wrapped in greaseproof paper and then a double thickness of foil.
The alcohol in which the fruit is soaked evaporates during cooking. If you would prefer not to use any alcohol, soak the fruit overnight in an extra 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice instead of the Drambuie. Feeding the cake with Drambuie once it is cooked is optional.
2 large bowls
Brown paper or newspaper
This recipe was first published in Mon Oct 01 01:00:00 BST 2001.