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Edward Hayden's Christmas cake

Edward Hayden's Christmas Cake from Edward EntertainsDown at Dunbrody House, celebrity chef Kevin Dundon (author of the hugely successful Great Family Food), has Edward Hayden as his right hand man, and he too has written a successful book, Edward Entertains (€25 online, from his website).

This traditional recipe from the book is, he says “The nicest recipe for fruit cake that I have ever come across… adapted from a recipe given to me by my very good friend, Mary Woods. There are several stages to it (soaking fruit, lining the tin, making the cake, icing and decorating the cake) …it’s a great way of involving children in cooking and they can get a real sense of achievement in it.”

Makes one 10 inch round or 9 inch square cake.

1lb/450g currants
10ozs/300g sultanas
5ozs/150g raisins
4ozs/110g cherries-chopped into pieces
4ozs/110g mixed peel
4ozs/110g nibbed or chopped almonds
Grated zest of two lemons
4 tablespoons of brandy
12ozs/350g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons of mixed spice
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
4ozs/110g ground almonds
10ozs/300g butter, softened
10ozs/300g dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of treacle
5 large eggs

Preparation

1. Put all of the dried fruit, chopped almonds, and the the lemon zest into a large bowl and mix in the brandy. Cover and leave to infuse for 24-48 hours.

2. Next, it is important to line the cake tin correctly: line the inside of a 10 inch round or 9 inch square cake tin with a double layer of parchment and tie a layer of brown paper around the outside to protect the cake during baking.

3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 130C/250F/Gas Mark ½

To Make the Cake:

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Beat the eggs into the mix.

3. Sift the flour, ground almonds and spices together.

4. Add the flour to the creamy butter mixture, mixing thoroughly.

5. Next, mix in the treacle and combine well.

6. Finally, fold in the soaked dried fruit. The mixture will get quite firm but do persevere at this stage.

7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth it all out across the top.

8. Bake the cake mixture for 3-3 ½ hours or until the mixture starts to come away slightly from the side of the tin. The cake should have a little spring when pressed in the centre to indicate that it is cooked. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Pour additional brandy over the top of the cake if desired.

Almond Icing:

8oz/225g ground almonds
4oz/110g icing sugar
4oz/110g caster sugar
1 large egg, lighty beaten
6-8 drops of lemon juice.

1. Sift the icing sugar, caster sugar and ground almonds together.

2. Add in the beaten egg and lemon juice, and use them to bind the mixture together.

3. Knead the mix together (similar to pastry) and wrap it tightly in cling film; store in the fridge until required.

To Amond-Ice the Cake:

1. Turn the rich fruit cake upside down onto a cake board or serving platter.

2. Brush the entire surface of the cake with boiled apricot jam.

3. On a work surface well dusted with icing sugar, roll out a piece of almond paste to fit the top of your cake and then long strips to cover all around the sides of the cake.

4. Dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar and use both your hands and your rolling pin to smooth the surface of the cake.

5. Leave the cake to dry out overnight.

To finish the cake:

Edward suggests that you use shop bought sugar paste icing.
The day after you have almond-iced the cake, roll the out some sugar paste icing as directed on the packet. Brush the almond icing with water to stick the white icing to the cake. Spread the sugar paste icing over the cake and again, as with the almond icing smooth out with your hands and keep rubbing it to obtain a smooth shine.

ADDITIONAL NOTES from Edward:

“I have used a little red food colouring to colour some of the icing and make a ribbon out of some leftover strips of the icing and just folded some on top to make a bow of sorts. Play around with the decoration to get it to the way you want it using either Christmas decorations, fresh flowers or some handmade decorations.”

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