As many seasoned bakers will be aware, getting ready for the busy festive period takes a lot of planning. Although many of our favourite festive treats need to be whipped up on the day, there’s one that’s famously made in advance: the Christmas cake.
If you’re already thinking about creating a batch ready for when the orders come flooding in, no fear. We’ve complied our top tips for making the perfect Christmas cake to ensure your customers are fully satisfied when they cut into it on Christmas Day.
Tip 1: Soak your fruit for at least three days
To ensure your Christmas cake is full of flavour, soak all your dried fruit for three days before baking. The fruit is traditionally soaked in brandy, but if that’s not your tipple of choice, why not experiment with other spirits? Rum, whiskey and sherry are popular alternatives, or if you’d rather ditch the alcohol, ginger beer can make a lovely spicy cake.
Tip 2: Line your cake tin in two sheets of baking paper
As many Christmas cakes can take around 4-5 hours to bake, the edges of your cake can end up cooking quicker than the middle. To prevent them from browning too much during a long, slow bake, add an extra layer of baking paper around your cake mix and the sides won’t cook as quickly.
Tip 3: Feed your cake in regular intervals until you seal it
Feeding your cake is an essential part of baking this Christmas staple. After your cake has baked and cooled, skewer it in a few places and add a little more of your chosen spirit. You’ll then need to wrap your cake in baking paper and foil until it’s ready to decorate. However, during this time you’ll need to feed your cake with alcohol every few days. This will ensure the cake stays moist in the months before it’s iced.
Tip 4: Brush your cake in warm apricot jam before decorating
When you’re ready to start the decoration phase, brush your cake with apricot jam before you add the marzipan. This seals the cake and acts as a base for the marzipan to sit on, ensuring the cake doesn’t crumble into the icing and the top stays smooth and even.
Tip 5: Leave the marzipan to dry out for a few days before icing
Once you’ve covered your cake in marzipan, cover your cake loosely in baking paper and leave it for a few days before adding the royal icing. This allows the cake to dry out a bit before you coat it in icing and add your final decorations.
However you like to make your Christmas cake, giving yourself plenty of time to carry out every stage is the secret to mastering this classic recipe.
What are your top tips for making the perfect Christmas cake? Let us know via Twitter!