In lockdown one we did a blog post on things you could do until the restrictions lifted, so here we are in lockdown two, with colder, wetter weather on the lead-up to Christmas. One of the things we always do at this time of year is make a cake (we actually make two, one for Christmas and one for January), it's a good way to spend a few hours and it fills the house with a brilliantly evocative aroma.

So here is our family Christmas cake recipe, we have made it every year since the kids were young and it never fails - its a bit of a mash up between a Nigella recipe and one from a 30 year old cooking magazine, its great to make with kids, and is much nicer than any shop bought one. We always make ours on the second Sunday of November 

IMPORTANT Turn on a Christmas music soundtrack ....link to ours:


make sure there are lots of mince pies, chocolate coins and satsumas available to eat while you are making the cake.


Put sugar, butter, fruit, zests, juice and brandy in a pan, bring to the boil, stir until butter has melted, reduce the heat and let it bubble for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Leave to cool for about 30 mins, then mix in the eggs.
Heat oven to 150 degrees or gas mark 2
Mix the ground almonds together with sifted flour and spices, add to the fruit/brandy mixture - (mix well so no flour pockets)
Double line your cake tin with greaseproof paper with the paper reaching about 4-5cm higher than the top of the tin. 
On the outside of the tin wrap a double layer of newspaper at the same height as the greaseproof paper, tie with string.

Place the cake mixture into the tin and carefully smooth down.
Place the cake in the middle of the oven, while it is cooking watch at least one Christmas film.
The cake is cooked when the skewer comes out clean.
Once it is out of the oven take it out of its tin (leaving paper on) and brush with a couple of tablespoons more of brandy on the top, now still leaving the paper on immediately wrap in two layers of tin foil - this will trap the heat, and create steam which will keep the top of the cake soft.

Keep the cake in an airtight container until decorating a few days before Christmas.
If you like a boozy cake, feed it each week with a couple of tablespoons of brandy/sherry.