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How to Make a Christmas Cake - The Victorian Way

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Christmas is approaching so Mrs Crocombe is making a cake for Lord and Lady Braybrooke at Audley End House.

This traditional plum cake is based on a recipe by Charles Francatelli, who was Queen Victoria's chief cook from 1840 to 1841.

Discover more Victorian Christmas recipes: https://goo.gl/Vd7Nmd

Victorian Christmas Cake Recipe

680g plain flour
680g butter
450g caster sugar
450g dried chopped cherries
680g currants
680g candied peel
225g ground almonds
8 eggs
Zest of four oranges
15g ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg)
½ pint of brandy

For the almond paste:
225g ground almonds
450g caster sugar
A little orange water
3-4 egg whites

For the icing:
6 egg whites
680g icing sugar
Lemon Juice

Preheat your oven to 160ºC, 320ºF or gas mark 3.

Line a large cake tin with butter and greaseproof paper.

Soften your butter, then combine with the sugar, flour and eggs gradually. Then incorporate the cherries, currants, candied peel, ground almonds, spices and brandy until you have a thick mixture.

Pour this mix into your lined cake tin, then place in a preheated oven and bake until a skewer comes out clean when placed into the centre of the cake. This will take around six hours, but keep an eye on it.

Once your cake is out of the oven, remove it from the tin and leave it to cool on a wire rack. You can then make the almond paste.

Mix the ground almonds, caster sugar and orange water together in a bowl. Slowly add in the egg whites, and mix until the mixture comes together into a dough. You may not need to use all of the egg whites, so keep an eye on the consistency of the mixture so it doesn’t become too thin.

Take your almond paste and roll it out until it is around 5mm thick. Using your cake tin as a guide, cut out a circle to cover the top of the cake, and a strip to encircle the sides. You can then place it over the cake, using jam or water as a glue if necessary.

Next you can make the icing by mixing the egg whites and fine sugar together. Add a few drops of lemon juice until the mixture becomes spreadable. Cover the cake in this icing mixture and leave this in a dry place until it turns hard.

You can then decorate the cake by piping on some more icing. It’s up to you to choose your decorating style, but if you’d like to keep it authentically Victorian we suggest writing a Christmas message onto your cake. You can add a little food colouring to your icing to create an array of colours for your cake.

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