Christmas cake never seems to get eaten in our house, so I tend to make several small ones rather than a single big one. These are also great for presents and for putting in people's stockings. If you have a small oven, you might want to bake the cakes in two batches.
Makes 10 ramekin-sized cakes
- 275g plain flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground mixed spice
- Good pinch of salt
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 225g soft brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon black treacle
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100g chopped mixed peel
- 225g currants
- 225g raisins
- 100g dried cranberries
- 50g blanched almond, dry-fried or roasted and roughly chopped
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- Apricot jam, warmed
- Marzipan (optional)
- Icing (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas mark 2. Cut out 10 x 22-23cm circles from baking parchment. Brush lightly with oil and push into 10 deep ramekins about 9cm in diameter.
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the mixed spice and salt and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and light. By hand this will take 7-10 minutes; with an electric whisk about 3-4 minutes.
Put the eggs, treacle and vanilla extract in another bowl, whisk lightly, then beat a little at a time into the creamed mixture. Add some of the flour along with the last few additions of egg to prevent the mixutre from curdling (if it does curdle, don't worry, just carry on).
Put the peel, fruit and nuts in another bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Using a metal spoon, fold the remaining flour into the egg mixture, then add the fruit and nuts and grated citrus zest. Stir in the brandy.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1-1½ hours, or until a skewer stabbed in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave to cool in the ramekins, then turn out and remove the parchment.
To decorate, brush with a little warmed apricot jam, then cover with marzipan and icing, if you fancy it. Top with decorations as you like. Then - if they're presents - wrap the cakes in clear cellophane and tie with twine or ribbon.
This recipe features on p438 of Sarah Raven's Food for Friends and Family Cookbook.