I’ve never made a Christmas cake. I didn’t like them for a long time (nor did I like mince pies or Christmas puddings…actually I still don’t like Christmas pudding. Yuck!) so it’s not something that ever came up. My mum also makes a pretty amazing Christmas cake, so it’s always been made for me if I’ve wanted one and I’ve just never tried.
So, when Opies Foods asked me if I fancied having a go at their Ginger Christmas Cake recipe, using some of their products, I was a bit nervous but excited, and slightly worried I’d eat all of the cherries they sent before I got around to making the cake! I love ginger at Christmas. We always make absolutely loads of gingerbread, so the idea of mixing this lovely spicy flavour with a traditional Christmas cake appealed to me.
I should preface this by of course saying Opies very kindly sent me some free samples so that I could make this cake, as well as a recipe. But, also that I’m a crap baker. Husbands a head chef, and I’m…whatever I am, but we’re not good at nice neat cakes. We’re experimental cooks; we don’t weigh things, we throw everything in making notes as we go and desperately hoping for the best. This usually (not always!!) leads to some yummy foods, but it rarely leads to a pretty cake! Yummy cakes, yes, just not pretty! So, while this recipe is fantastic, and Ginger Christmas Cake is a great flavour, I apologise that it’s not neat and perfect. As my mums would be!
- 75ml Ginger Wine plus extra for ‘feeding.’
- 200g Opies Crystallised Stem Ginger roughly chopped
- 200g Currants
- 50g Opies Cocktail Cherries roughly chopped
- 200g Dark Muscovado Sugar
- 200g Butter
- 280g Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup
- 3 Medium Free Range Eggs
- 250g Self Raising Flour
- one tablespoon Ground Mixed Spice
For the Marzipan Layer
- 20g Reserved Stem Ginger Syrup
- 500g Marzipan
For the Royal Icing layer
- 500g Icing Sugar
- 3 Egg Whites
- Juice of ½ a Lemon
- one teaspoon Glycerine
So…I don’t bake. While Opies recipe includes icing, I cheated and bought a ready to roll block. Saves time and tastes great. It’s totally up to you though.
We didn’t feed ours. Which my mother, Christmas cake queen, was horrified by. But, I wanted to publish asap so everyone else had time to feed and I can’t publish until I’ve eaten something and I know it’s nice. If you do choose to feed, wrap your cake before the marzipan bit. Then once a week, poke holes in it with cocktail sticks and drizzle in a little more ginger wine before rewrapping. Store in a cool, dry place in between feeds and make sure it’s well wrapped. To be perfectly honest though, it’s lovely without, and I’m not sure I could ever be bothered with the hassle.
The Opies recipe called for a 6inch cake tin, mine is probably 8 and that worked fine. If you’re is bigger or smaller just adjust the cooking time slightly to compensate.
Opies also told me to wrap the cake tin in and sit it on newspaper in the oven. I did, using a little masking tape to secure it in place. I didn’t burn but did smell a little funny. That’s ok!
Now, in between making the cake, and writing all that up there, and writing this bit, we had a bit of a crisis. Our electrics died, and we had to make an emergency move to Husbands parents. So, I’m using the photo’s and Opies recipe to remind me of exactly what I did! Forgive any memory blur.
The day before you bake the cake, place the chopped crystallised ginger and currents in a bowl and pour in the ginger wine. Cover this with cling film or a lid and leave somewhere cool. I left mine overnight, a few hours would do, but it’s a longer the better type situation.
When you are ready to bake the cake, grease the tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper. Wrap in newspaper and leave to one side. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. I normally do this by hand, but I find brown sugar to be lumpy and tough, so I used our electric whisk…and got butter all over the kitchen. As you do.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. The Opies recipe wanted me to add it tbsp. at a time and whisk after each bit. I’m much too lazy and impatient for this, so I added it in maybe three lots. It was fine!
Rinse the cherries with water, pat dry and place in your weighed flour. Give them a little shake so they are covered. This will stop them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
Open the stem ginger and pour 20ml into a small cup and leave to one side for later. Tip the rest of the jar into a food processor and whizz until smoothish. A bit lumpy is fine.
Tip the flour and cherries, mixed spice, soaked fruit and pureed ginger into the butter and sugar mixture and fold in well. Make sure you dig right down to get it all nice and even.
Pour this Ginger Christmas Cake mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven, sitting on a wade of the newspaper for 2 hours.
When ready, remove your Ginger Christmas cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from the tin and leave on a wire rack to cool completely. This will take a few hours.
Once cool, use a brush to coat with the retained ginger syrup from earlier. You don’t need loads, just a good coating.
Next, cover a work surface and rolling pin with icing sugar and roll out your marzipan until it’s big enough to cover the cake and about 1/2cm thick. Very carefully lift this and place on top of the Ginger Christmas cake. Trim and leftover edges.
If you are making your own icing…make it. If you are cheating like me, roll it out the same as you did the marzipan. I added another coating of the ginger syrup to the top of the marzipan, but I don’t think that’s actually necessary.
Gently place the icing on top of the marzipan and trim again. I then decorated my Ginger Christmas Cake with some little Christmasy decorations, but that’s entirely up to you.
Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup (350g £2.50) & Crystallised Ginger (200g £2.35) are both available from Tesco