English Christmas Cake
1 pound (2 sticks) plus 4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups finely chopped mixed candied fruit peel (about 10 ounces)
2 cups white raisins (about 10 ounces)
1 1/2 cups dried currants (about 2 ounces)
1 cup seedless raisins (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup candied cherries, cut in half (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped candied angelica (about 4 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1 cup shelled almonds (about 6 ounces), pulverized in a blender or
with a nut grinder or mortar and pestle
1/4 cup pale dry sherry, rum or brandy
1/4 cup red Currant Jelly
2 cups almond paste
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
7 cups confectioners sugar (2 pounds), sifted
6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon strained fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Using a pastry brush, coat the
bottom and sides of a 12x3 inch springform cake pan with 2
tablespoons of the softened butter.
Coat one side of a 20-inch strip of wax paper
with 2 more tablespoons of softened butter, and set the paper,
greased side up, inside the pan.
In a large bowl, combine the fruit peel, white
raisins, currants, seedless raisins, cherries, and angelica.
Sprinkle the fruit with 1/2 cup of the flour, tossing it about with
a spoon to coat the pieces evenly. Set aside. Then sift the
remaining 1-1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt. Set
In another large bowl, cream the remaining
1-pound of butter with the brown sugar by mashing and beating them
against the sides of the bowl until they are light and fluffy. Add
the pulverized almonds, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the
flour and baking powder mixture, a half cup or so at a time, then
beat the fruit mixture into the batter.
Finally, add the sherry and pour the batter into
the springform pan. It should come to no more than an inch from the
top. If necessary, remove and discard any excess.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours, or until a cake tester
inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake
cool for about 30 minutes before removing the sides of the spring
form, then slip the cake off the bottom of the pan onto a cake rack
to cool completely. Then carefully peel off the wax paper.
GLAZE: Heat the currant jelly in a small saucepan over moderate heat
until it reaches a temperature of 225 degrees on a candy thermometer
or is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon lightly. With a small
metal spatula, spread the hot glaze evenly over the top and sides of
To make the marzipan, use an electric mixer, preferably one equipped
with a paddle. Crumble the almond paste in small pieces into the
bowl, add the almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and beat at
medium speed until well blended. Gradually add the corn syrup in a
thin stream, beating constantly until the mixture is smooth. Then
beat in the 7 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. As
soon as the mixtute becomes so stiff that it clogs the beater, knead
in the remaining sugar with your hands. *From time to time it will
be necessary to soften the marzipan as you add the sugar by placing
it on a surface and kneading it for a few minutes. Press the ball
down, push it forward, and fold it back on itself, repeating the
process as long as necessary to make it pliable.
On a clean surface, roll Out half the marzipan into a circle about
1/2 inch thick. Using a 12-inch pan or plate as a pattern, cut a
12-inch disc out of the circle with a pastry wheel or small, sharp
knife. Roll and cut the remaining marzipan into a 36-by-3-inch
strip. Gently set the disc of marzipan on top of the cake and press
it lightly into place. Wrap the strip of marzipan around the cake,
pressing it gently to secure it. If the strip overlaps the top, fold
the rim down lightly.
Wrap the cake in foil or plastic, and let it
stand at room temperature for at least 48 bouts before icing. The
cake may be stored for longer periods; it improves with age, and can
be kept for several months.
Just before serving, ice the cake. Combine the 6 cups of
confectioners sugar, egg whites, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt
in a large mixing bowl.
With a whisk or a rotary or electric beater, beat
until the mixture is fluffy but firm enough to stand in soft peaks
on the beater when it is lifted out of the bowl. With a small metal
spatula, spread the icing evenly over the sides and top of the cake.
Then decorate the cake to your taste with swirls of icing, fresh or
artificial holly and artificial mistletoe, candied fruits, or even
small china reindeer, people, and houses.