Boiled Fruit Cake

An easy to make rich boiled fruit cake that doesn't need to be made months in advance. Delicious at Christmas time or indeed any special occasion.


Last year I made the cake just a week before Christmas and it tasted delicious. This year I am opting for 3 weeks before. This will give me time to decorate it and for the flavours to develop even more, especially with the help of a little sherry or brandy!

Of course this cake doesn't just have to be used as a Christmas cake. It is a rather lovely cake though, so we tend to save it for special occasions.

Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

Christmas cake made gluten free and decorated with delightful snowmen

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g currants
  • 175g sultanas
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g glacé cherries, chopped
  • 50g candied peel, chopped
  • 175g soft dark brown sugar
  • 150ml orange juice
  • 150ml sherry
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 175g gluten free self raising flour
  • 175g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

To cover the cake:

  • one pack of marzipan (c.500g)
  • one pack of white ready to roll icing (500g)
  • apricot jam
  • icing sugar

Method

  • Preheat the oven 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
  • Grease and line a 24cm cake tin. 
  • Place the butter, fruits, sugar, orange juice, sherry and bicarbonate of soda into a large pan.
  • Bring the mixture to boil.
  • Allow to boil for 5 minutes and then leave to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and add to the cooled mixture with the treacle.
  • Sieve the flour and spices and fold into the mixture.
  • Spoon into the prepared tin.
  • Cook for approximately 40 minutes.
  • Then reduce the temperature to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3 and cook for a further 40 minutes. Test with a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Leave it to cool in the tin.
  • Once the cake is cooled, wrap in baking or greaseproof paper and foil until ready to decorate.
  • You can 'feed' the cake with more alcohol before you decorate it if you like. Do this by using a cocktail stick to make holes in the base. Then spoon alcohol over the cake.
  • To cover the cake first roll out the marzipan to a large enough circle to cover the cake and sides. Use icing sugar when rolling out to stop it from sticking.
  • Using a small brush spread the apricot jam over the cake and then lay the marzipan over the top. You can warm the apricot jam first if it is too stiff.
  • Press the marzipan down gently, ensuring the whole cake it covered. Trim off any excess.
  • Roll out the fondant icing in the same way.
  • Brush the marzipan with cooled boiled water and lay the white icing over the top.
  • Press it down gently, smoothing over any cracks. Trim off any excess.
  • Your cake is now ready to decorate.

When baking your cake, it is a good idea to put a large collar around the cake tin to stop it burning/browning too much. Do this by using old brown envelopes or newspaper and tying around the tin with string. After around 40 minutes of cooking I also like to cover the top of the cake with a circle of baking parchment to stop it overbrowning.

There are lots of ideas on the internet about how to decorate your cake once you have covered it. You could simply tie a large ribbon around and lay a sprig of holly on top or simply buy ready made decorations. A nice idea is to cut stars or snowflake shapes out of fondant, sprinkle with edible glitter and lay on the cake.

Pictured in the photo is a recent design. I was inspired by an image and idea I found online and just altered it a little. To make the snow effect you simply make a runny glacé icing (c.100g icing sugar with a little water), spread it over the area and then sprinkle with dessicated coconut. To make the snowman I made balls of 'snow' with leftover fondant icing and stuck them together with a little water. I cheated and bought already coloured icing, but of course you can make your own with food colouring (gel is the best) - just make sure you wear disposable gloves! For the tree I simply cut green and white stars and stacked them up and finished with a dusting of icing sugar. Just have fun and be inventive.