Christmas cakes hold a special place in everyone's heart. Although, fruit cakes are a fair game from the moment they emerge from the oven, yet no one can deny that the raw batter is a treat to mankind.
As with so many truly great foodstuffs, they actually improve with age, especially if they're drip-fed with alcohol as they mature.
Put the dried fruits, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan, and set it over a medium heat.
Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tied with string to secure.
Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip it into the prepared tin, level the top with a spatula, and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
Gear up to earn accolades from your family and friends, because this is going to go out like a hot cake, like literally!
The French are ever so elegant in their ways.
There’s nothing more festive or comforting than a post-lunch bowl of sumptuous Christmas pudding