Stir-Up Sunday: Christmas Cake

Technically, Stir-Up Sunday was last weekend - the 24th November - but as my laptop has gone to the great scrapyard in the sky *sob* this is the first chance I've had to borrow one and start posting again…

For those of you who haven't heard of 'Stir Up Sunday' before, it's an old English tradition (and one we follow religiously in our family.) It basically refers to the Sunday that falls a month before Christmas. The idea is that you put aside this day to complete all your pre-christmas baking - thereby allowing a month for your cake and puddings to 'mature'. On this day everyone who's present can 'stir' the mixture and make a wish…

This year will be the first time the responsibility of the cake has fallen to me, and sticking with tradition, I'm following our family recipe…


Tools of the trade:
Mixing Bowl (x2) 
Cake Tin (20.5cm Square - though anything about that size will do)
Baking Parchment
Wooden spoon/spatula

Ingredients:
400g Plain Flour
1tsp of Ground Cinammon 
1tsp of Ground Mixed Spice
Rind of 1 Lemon (grated)
350g of Unsalted Butter
350g of Caster Sugar
6 Eggs (beaten)
500g Currants
350g Sultanas
225g Raisins
100g Flaked Almonds
3/4 of a tub of Mixed Peel
1 tub of Glacé Cherries
2 table spoons of brandy (and more once cooked)

To decorate:
Ready-to-roll Marzipan
Ready-to-roll Icing


First… grease and line your tin.

Then seive the flour and spices over a mixing bowl. Ordinarily I'm not one to faff with seiving anything, but there are no raising agents in this cake so it's important to get air in where you can and keep the mixture as light as possible.


Next, grate the lemon rind over your mixture, taking care not to get any of the pith.

Then, in a separate bowl (or if you're lazy like me, a food processor) cream the sugar and butter together.


Add the beaten eggs to the sugar and butter, a little at a time. If it starts to look like its curdling, adding some of the flour/spice mixture early will help to stop this.

Once all the eggs have been added, gently fold in the flour mixture. 


Then begin to add the dry fruits, starting with the currants and working your way down the list. Again gently fold them in to avoid knocking out the little air there is.


Finally, add the brandy. 

Your cake mixture is now ready to be baked. Put it into the tin but hollow out the centre of the mix so that it will be level when it rises (rather than domed)

Bake for 3.5hrs at 140 degrees Celsius.

After this time take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for 1 hour in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.

Prick the cake all over with a skewer and spoon brandy over the cake (I'm quite liberal with this as I think it makes for a moister cake). 

And now the hard part... DO NOT EAT the cake. Instead, wrap it in baking parchment and leave to mature in a cool, dry cupboard for 1 month (if you like your cake quite boozy you can always feed it with more brandy as time goes on.)

Then, on Christmas Eve, bring your cake out of storage and decorate. Just in time for the big day!

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