What is it about christmas that makes us want to bake puddings, cakes and mince pies, when it seems like every second person you meet will say how they aren’t overly fond of too much of this fruity sweet heaviness.
I can still picture each Christmas as a child watching the Mam without fail go through the long drawn out process of shopping for the pudding ingredients… soaking the fruit overnight… chopping… and mixing… and stirring.
She would not cook that pudding until every last one of us had stirred it, made our wish and added just a little bit more Guinness. She would then divide the mixture into one big pudding bowl for our family and two small ones for the Nana and Granny.
And that pudding could be still found carefully wrapped up the following March with barely a few slices eaten, as we all liked to try a little but just not too much. I think a lot of the reason was, we were just so spoiled with all the festive treats.
So here I am many years later, knowing this and knowing that the hubby and the small one aren’t fans of these either. But it’s a tradition I’m used to and one I’d like to carry on in my home with my little family, so I’ve compiled a recipe for a christmas cake capturing all those beautiful festive spices and smells but with a fruity lightness that pleases us all.
Christmas Crumble cake
Serves 10-12 • Baking time: Appox 2½-3 hours
For the cake
3 tablespoons of whiskey (for soaking fruit)
175g soft butter
175g light golden brown sugar
75g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons Bailey’s
175g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Can of black pitted cherries drained and chopped (221g drained weight)
For the almond topping
50g chopped almonds
60g brown sugar
120g plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond essence
The night before: Soak the sultanas and raisins in the whiskey.
1. To make the topping: Melt the butter and mix in the brown sugar, almonds, flour, cinnamon and almond essence. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 150c/Gas Mark 2/130c (fan). Grease and line a 24cm springform tin with baking parchment.
3. Cream together the butter and sugars until creamy. Then gradually mix in the eggs, adding a little flour with each addition to stop curdling. Mix in the Baileys.
4. Sift the flour and spices together and fold into the batter.
5. Toss the soaked fruit in flour, then stir well into mixture.
6. Spread about two-thirds of the cake mix into the prepared cake tin, top with most of the cherries and one-third of the almond topping mixture.
7. Spoon over remaining cake mixture. Add the rest of the cherries and top with remaining almond topping mixture.
8. Bake for approx two and a half hours. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the tin.
9. Prick holes in the surface and drizzle with whiskey. Repeat once a week.