This magnificent Christmas cake is a real showstopper. Fruit sponge flavoured with juicy clementines, plenty of nuts, and a dash of rum, all wrapped up in pistachio marzipan and a hand-painted icing bow.
This indulgent Christmas present cake is a delicious twist on a traditional Christmas cake recipe (opens in new tab). Despite its lavish flavours, the cake actually takes around the same amount of time to prepare as a classic one – though the ingredients may be slightly pricier. Have a favourite cake you like to use every year? Jazz it up by using this recipe as a step-by-step decorating guide.
For the cake
- 500g pack mixed fruit, washed
- 200g (7oz) mixed peel, washed
- 3tbsp brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding
- juice from 4 clementines, about 90ml (3 1/2fl oz)
- 250g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 250g (9oz) soft light brown sugar
- 1tbsp treacle
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 250g (9oz) self-raising flour
- 50g (2oz) ground almonds
- 1tbsp mixed spice
- 100g (31⁄2oz) pistachios
For the pistachio marzipan:
- 100g (31⁄2oz) pistachios
- 200g (7oz) toasted flaked almonds
- 260g (9oz) icing sugar
- 2 egg whites
For the decoration:
- 2tbsp apricot jam
- 1kg (2 ¼ lb) pack of white fondant icing
- red food colouring
- pen with edible red ink
You will also need:
- square 21cm (8”) cake tin greased and lined with baking parchment
- Heat the oven to 160C, Gas 3. Put the dried fruit and mixed peel, brandy or rum and clementine juice in a pan over a medium heat, mix occasionally for 10-15mins until the fruit has plumped up slightly.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and treacle followed by the flour, ground almonds and spices followed by the fruit and pistachios.
- Pour the mixture into the lined tin, bake for 3hrs until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin then remove onto a cooling rack. Poke holes in the top and spoon 2tbsp of additional brandy or rum. Repeat this step each week leading up to Christmas.
- To make the pistachio marzipan: In a food processor blitz almonds and pistachios until fine. Add the sugar, egg white and blitz until they clump together and can form a ball.
- To decorate the cake: Warm the jam and spread over the cake. Lightly dust the worktop with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to a 3mm thickness and smooth over the cake.
- Next ice the cake. Reserve about 200g (7oz) of the fondant icing for the ribbon and the tag decoration. To create a marbled effect from the remaining icing colour a quarter red with the food colour. Roll the white and red icing into separate 30cm (12in) long sausage shapes, place the red on top of the white. Fold a third of the icing over itself and the other third on top. Roll back into a sausage shape and repeat the folding and rolling twice. Mould into a ball, dust the worktop with icing sugar and and roll out to a 3mm (3⁄4in) thickness and lay over the top of the cake. Smooth over the corners and trim off the excess.
- Roll out the reserved white icing into a long strip and cut 3 strips for the ribbon, place one strip over the corner of the cake and with the other two cut a V shape in the end to look like the end of the ribbon, drape these on top. Roll the offcuts back into a ball and roll out again and cut out a tag shape and place this on the cake, roll a small amount of icing with your fingers to create string for the tag and position both on the cake. Allow to set for an hour before using an edible pen to draw details on the ribbon and the tag.
Top tips for making this Christmas present cake
Lightly dust your rolling pin and countertop with icing sugar to stop the sugarpaste from sticking.
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Mary Berry’s fruit cake (opens in new tab)
Christmas cake decorations (opens in new tab)
Easy Christmas cake recipe (opens in new tab)