George V. Reilly

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake Snowman

This recipe comes from my mother, who has used it for many years. I added the soaking of the fruit in hot water.

Fruit-based Christmas cake is considered a treat in Ireland, not a thing of horror, as so many Americans regard it.

12 ozs butter
12 ozs brown sugar
12 ozs plain flour
1 tsp salt
12 ozs raisins
12 ozs sultanas
6 ozs dried currants
6 ozs candied peel
4 ozs glacé cherries
4 ozs walnuts, optional, cut in half
2 ozs angelica, optional
4-5 eggs

Makes one round cake in a 10"x"3"-tall cake pan or two cakes in 8"x3" pans".

Note: For the raisins, you can substitute stoned muscat raisins or valentias if you wish. Be careful to only take the stone and leave the flesh. I usually cut them in half as they are big.

Place the fruit in a mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Add about half a cup of whiskey or brandy. Stir well. Let the fruit soak overnight, stirring oc­ca­sion­al­ly. Keep covered. It will plump up con­sid­er­ably. An hour before baking, drain the fruit thoroughly. Be sure to press out excess liquid.

Line tin with buttered grease­proof paper (two layers) on sides and bottom. Must be 3" taller than tin. Put brown paper around outside to prevent burning: prevents base being burned.

Cream butter and sugar very well: about 10 minutes in a beater. Whip eggs together and sieve flour. Gradually add eggs slowly and alternate with some flour (it might be better to do this by hand to prevent curdling). Add rest of dry in­gre­di­ents. Lastly add soaked fruit. Stir and pour into lined tin.

Before putting into oven, make a 3"-wide scoop in center of top; glaze cake with some milk to prevent cracking. Cake takes approx 4 hours to cook. If getting too brown, put some paper on top for last half hour. Don’t open oven before that.

Cook on 2nd shelf from the bottom. My oven in Dublin I cook at 300F for 1½ hours and reduce to 250F for 2½ hours.

While still warm, pierce top several times and pour in a little whiskey. Leave in tin overnight.

The cake may be made several months ahead of time. Keep in an airtight container. Every few weeks, drizzle a little whiskey on it to keep it moist.

In mid-December, the cake should be covered with a layer of marzipan icing. It should then be decorated with a layer of royal icing.

Update: 2008/03/31: Emma posted several blog posts about the Christmas Cake that I made in 2007: making the cake, making marzipan, and icing the cake.

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