Last week I needed to buy some brandy to make tiramisu and could only find large bottles so had a lot left over. What to do with spare brandy? Make Christmas cakes, of course!
This Christmas cake recipe works best if you start soaking the fruit and nuts in brandy a few months before Christmas so I kicked mine off today. As with many of my recipes I've freelanced a bit, deleting the added sugar (it is already sweet enough with all the fruit) and increasing the quantity of brandy.
Here's what to do now
2 cups of nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans, hazel nuts, brazil nuts – whatever you like), chopped
2.5 cups of dried fruit (e.g. raisins and dates), chopped
0.5 cup of glacé fruit (e.g. cherries, crystallised ginger), chopped
1.5 cups brandy
Put all above ingredients into an airtight Tupperware container or similar. Mix well, seal, and put in a dark cupboard. Shake it from time to time.
Then, here's what to do in November or December
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 cup nuts (again, whatever sort you prefer)
Combine the fruit/nut/brandy mixture with the flour, eggs and spice. Spoon into a greased and lined 20 cm baking pan. Flatten surface with the back of a spoon, press the remaining nuts on top, and bake at 150 degrees C for 1 to 1.5 hours. (Test with a skewer.) Cool slightly then turn onto wire rack. When cold, wrap in foil to store until required. Serve thinly sliced.
If you'd prefer to make mini cakes – which make delightful edible gifts – muffin-sized ones take about 45 minutes to cook, and this mixture makes about ten to twelve.