The Christmas Cake

It seems to have been a long time in the making but it certainly wasn’t started early enough.  A few weeks ago I showed you a porcelain bowl filled with dried fruits and nuts soaking in brandy.  And soak they did.  For weeks.  It just seemed to take an inexcusable amount of time to progress those fruits from dried to brandy-swollen and then to cake mix.

The tin lined with brown paper and two sheets of baking paper

The tin lined with brown paper and two sheets of baking paper

When I was growing up my Auntie Lexia always made a Christmas cake.  If you opened the door of her fridge at any time of the year it would be filled with butter wrappers.  She always saved her butter wrappers because she said they were the best thing for lining cake tins and produced the best results.

Almost ready for the oven.  Just a few bangs on the bench to release any trapped air bubbles.

Almost ready for the oven. Just a few bangs on the bench to release any trapped air bubbles.

The worst job ever in the whole Christmas cake making process is always the lining of the tin.  In our throw-away generation we no long use butter wrappers but instead line the tin using a sheet of brown paper and two sheets of baking paper.  The older generation was so much more resourceful – using things that everyone today just throws away.

The baked cake

The baked cake

Lexia would make her cake well in advance of Christmas and that’s what I normally do – but not this year!  It needs time to mature and the longer it matures the better.  You just wrap it in cling wrap and foil and leave in a cool, dark place to rest and mature.  I always rest mine upside down to flatten the top.  There was no resting or maturing phase for my cake this year.

The foil traps in the brandy

The foil traps in the brandy

I always cover my cakes in marzipan.  I don’t buy the imitation because it tastes so artificial.  You can make your own but who’s got the time.  I always moisten a small amount of marzipan with some water then squish it onto the cake board placing the cake upside down on top of the squishy marzipan.  This helps the cake to stick to the board.  The marzipan-covered cake should be allowed a day to dry off before covering in royal icing but again, who’s got the time.

Covering the cake in marzipan stops the white icing staining brown

Covering the cake in marzipan stops the white icing staining brown

I use royal icing to cover the cake.  You can make your own but again…  I knead the icing on my bench sprinkled with icing sugar then roll out into a thinnish layer.  Once the cake is iced I wrap some festive ribbon around it and secure with sewing pins and then affix a bow.

The 2012 Christmas Cake

The 2012 Christmas Cake

Sometimes I decorate the cake in festive thingies made from icing or marzipan but over the last few years I’ve been collecting a few worthless treasures that have been appearing year after year on my cake and there’d be an outcry if they didn’t make a timely appearance each Christmas.  There’s the dog that’s symbolic of my two little girls and the house with the chimney for Santa to slide down and the tiny Christmas tree and the little snowman and his friend.  They’re all looking a little battered but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.  To stick them on the cake I dip them in softly beaten egg white and this makes them stick to the icing.

For the recipe and many more much better images, here’s the link to It’s a Write-Off and this post might be about the time I perhaps wrote-off a friend’s car – unintentionally of course!

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  1. Nice looking cake, Charlie. I’ve made a Xmas cake once or twice, but never iced it. I’m far too lazy.

  2. What a beautiful cake Charlie! Well done. I don’t need to make a Christmas cake as such, but I so wanted to this year just because I like fruit cake and I miss it from home. The US ones are gnarly..yuck. However, just like you I didn’t think far ahead and so now, no cake. I ended up buying a loaf of Welsh cake from an import store. It wasn’t good either.

    I am sure yours tastes magnificent.

    Nazneen xx

  3. Wow, what a production, if that cake is as good as it looks, Charlie one bite must be a glance of what heaven is like! I love marzipan but have never had it on cake, sounds delicious though. I’m curious to see the inside of the cake, I hope you’ll post a pic of it before it gets devoured.
    My Mom used to make a light fruit cake that was mainly cake and less fruit but it was delicious toasted with sweet butter slathered on it. Your post brought back this lovely memory, thank you.

  4. This cake is obviously a labor of love every Christmas as it is so much effort. The finished result is so nice — it kind of looks like a fancy hat!

  5. I’m assuming this cake is what we call “fruit cake” here in the U.S. I do not like it, but yours certainly is gorgeous. I would never have the patience for a project like this. But you clearly do this for tradition and love of family, which are the best reasons of all.

    Interesting that you should comment on the older generation saving and reusing because I posted on that exact topic today.

  6. Amazing! Are you going to share the recipe?? 🙂

  7. I’ve been away.. and missed you! I love your cake and feel inspired to give it a try, but probably next year now. It turned out a pretty masterpiece with the white fluffy icing and marzipan.. just gorgeous!! xx

  8. I love the decorations!

  9. I love your beautiful fruit cake. All it needs is some coarse white sugar crystals sprinkled on top to resemble powdery snow … but the suggestion is only because I always need to make a suggestion. 🙂

    I’m just not in an emotional place to do much for Christmas this year for various reasons so sharing the Christmas celebrations of the bloggers I’ve subscribed to is a great treat. Thank you for welcoming me to your Christmas table.

  10. Beautiful cake, Charlie! You are so clever with the decorating! Hope you’re all enjoying the festive season! xx

  11. What a perfect looking cake 🙂 Love how you decorated – so cute!

  12. My older sister always makes the cake for our shared Christmas lunch so I have never had to attempt one – thanks goodness. It looks like a lot of work. Yours looks all pristine and perfect and I love the family decorations – definitely a must.

  13. I’m sure your cake will be delicious even it it won’t have as much time to mature as you want.

  14. This yeah was my first ever Christmas cake experience. In so nervous about the unwrapping in a weeks time! Yours looks wonderful and festive!

  15. Great looking cake. And the marzipan adds a glorious touch. I had totally forgotten that people used to save the butter papers for lining cake pans . I haven’t heard of anyone doing that for decades, though. But thanks for reminding me about it!

  16. The one thing I won’t miss about Christmas at home with my family. *shudder*

    Each to their own! 😉

  17. That’s a lovely looking Christmas cake Charlie 🙂

    I’ve never made a Christmas cake because I don’t really know how to make the fruit mince hehe but maybe next year and covering it with mazipan is definitely a good idea!!!

    Love it!!! Happy Holidays xox

  18. Beautifully done! I am not a fan of eating Christmas cake but I respect the art behind it. If it makes you feel any better about us being wasteful.. I always keep jam jars to make more jam in…

  19. Ooh, this looks so scrumptious, and just like the christmas cake that my mother used to make, topped with marzipan (which I loved) and royal icing. I love the little ornaments. We used to have threepenny bits in ours, but those times have passed. This year I bought a little gluten free cake.

  20. I bet it’s still miles better than a supermarket one Charlie! I’m the only one in my whole family who likes good old Christmas cake, so I tend to only make it every second year. Isn’t it funny how the battered decorations are the ones that evoke the most emotion and memories? Love yours! xox

  21. What a beautiful little cake! I love the idea of the brandy soaked dried fruits and nuts being incorporated into it. The basic cake reminds me of my mother’s Christmas Cake which was an excellent fruit cake that she would make in November, then pack the little cakes into a big vat and cover with brandy. By Christmas, it was delicious! Just like yours, very traditional!

  22. Aww love the little dog on top. What a fancy looking cake Charlie!

  23. You’ve created another beauty, Charlie! This may not have all of the fancy adornment of one of your birthday cakes but with this one, more than the others, it’s what’s inside that counts.n Yum!
    I know what you mean about how the little figures that top your cake mean Christmas to you and yours. I’ve a some tiny reindeer that Mom set out each Christmas. When I decorate, I have to find a place for them or things just don’t feel right.

  24. Great job Charlie! My friend Queen Viv had a special name for those butter wrappers, I can’t remember what they were but she always saves them too 🙂

  25. Your cake looks beautiful! I’ve been feeding my cake swigs of brandy and I’ve got my marzipan but I haven’t decorated the cake yet. My father always insisted upon silver balls on royal icing so that’s what I’ll do, but I love the decorations on your cake.

  26. I always mature my fruit very well too charlie….its just part of it!

  27. I love how you decorated your cake!

  28. A slice for me please.

  29. My kind of cake…period!

  30. I don’t like Christmas cake (I think it’s the peel…or possibly everything) but this looks gorgeous! I love the decorations too. It may not have matured but it looks perfect 🙂

  31. What a pretty looking cake!!!

  32. lovely cake Merry Christmas shared on my facebook wall

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