For those traditionalists and foodies out there, Bonfire night doesn’t just mean fireworks and treacle toffee - many people use the night as a marker for when to make their Christmas Cake.
There are seven weeks until the big day and your cake needs time to mature before it's at its best. Some people believe that you should do this three months before the event, but six weeks are perfectly adequate.
And don’t forget that you can freeze these, so if you want to give it a full three months, why not make it now and leave it maturing until February ready for next year!
But you’ve still got until the end of the week! What you’ll need is:
1 lb (450 g) currants,
6 oz (175 g) sultanas, 6 oz (175 g) raisins,
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped,
2 oz (50 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for 'feeding'
8 oz (225 g) plain flour
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (225 g) soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz (50 g) almonds, chopped (the skins can be left on)
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
4 oz (110 g) whole blanched almonds (if you are not icing the cake)
The dried fruit and mixed candied peel (not the fresh orange and lemon zest) needs to really soak in the brandy, so chuck it all into a bowl, mix it up and leave it to one side overnight covered in a clean tea towel.
Next day, prepare an 8” cake tin, greased and lined with baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) before you measure out all of the rest of the ingredients before sifting the flour, spices and salt into another bowl. Beat the eggs and leave them to one side whilst you whisk up the butter and sugar in another bowl until it’s a fluffy paste. When that’s done, keep whisking and add the beaten eggs a little at a time.
When that’s done, fold (not beat) the flour and spices into the mixture followed by the fruit, chopped nuts and treacle. Finally add the fresh lemon and orange zests and transfer the mixture to the tin. Now choose if you are going to ice the cake. If not, cover the top with all the almonds then place a circle of baking parchment with a hole (a bit bigger than a 10p) in the middle to cover the top.
Put the cake on the bottom shelf of the oven and leave for at least four and a half hours, but it might take a little longer so check after about four hours.
When done, cool on a wire rack before making small holes in the top and the base with a skewer and ‘feeding’ it with a few teaspoons of brandy. Wrap it in two layers of baking parchment and store in an airtight container. You might need to ‘feed’ it a couple of times before Christmas, but it’s now ready to open a day or so before Christmas.
Or, visit one of the Christmas events such as the Christmas Fairs at Holywell Community centre, or Prince Michael of Kent Court where you are likely to find carefully home-made Christmas cakes for sale on the stalls.