Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake is a rich fruit cake recipe made with dried fruits and nuts. It is simple to make and packed full of traditional Christmas flavours.
Why should I bake Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake?
This Christmas cake is full of flavour and packed with fruit. I am a huge fan of fruit cakes but most are dominated by raisins, sultanas and currants.
Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake does contain sultanas and raisins but also, prunes, dried apricots, mixed peel, glace cherries and crystallised pineapple. These additions to the standard fruit cake mix make for a slightly different flavour, a hint of the tropical and fresh fruity flavour.
Who is Paul Hollywood?
Paul Hollywood is a baker. And he is best known as a judge on The Great British Bake-Off on UK television. He has been with the Bake Off right from the start of the show and has many years of experience in baking.
Although Paul is best known for baking bread, he has a wide range of skills in baking. This recipe comes from his book ‘How to Bake’ which I was sent in 2012 by the publishers. It is an excellent book with well laid out recipes for bread, biscuits, cakes and pies.
How to Bake is a well thought out resource and the baking techniques are explained clearly in words and pictures. There is a comprehensive introduction at the beginning of each chapter that is well worth reading before you make the recipes.
How to Bake by Paul Hollywood is published by Bloomsbury
What is Christmas Cake?
Christmas Cake is a rich fruit cake that is traditionally eaten in Britain at Christmas. It seems that it evolved from two dishes that were eaten at Christmas. There was a plum porridge that was eaten on Christmas Eve and the Twelfth Night Cake eaten at Epiphany. It was during the Victorian era that the Christmas Cake as we now know it became popular.
Is Christmas Pudding the same as Christmas Cake?
Both festive desserts probably evolved from the same original fruit and spice porridge. However, Christmas Pudding is a boiled or steamed pudding (dessert) served with custard, cream or brandy butter at the end of dinner on Christmas Day.
The Christmas Cake is baked and decorated with marzipan and icing (frosting) and served as a cake with tea or coffee. So, although they both contain similar ingredients, they are different and served differently.
When do I serve Christmas Cake?
You can serve Christmas Cake at any time during the celebrations. It’s great to serve with some shortbread biscuits when friends call round.
In my family, it is traditional to cut the Christmas cake on Christmas Day. We have our Christmas dinner in the middle of the day, then cut the cake to serve as part of a tea with leftover turkey sandwiches and other sweet treats. According to my research, the Victorians (they really dominate our Christmas traditions!) thought it was unlucky to cut the Christmas Cake before Christmas Eve.
What kind of alcohol do I use in the cake?
I use brandy, but you can use other spirits such as whisky or rum. In this recipe, the fruit is soaked in a mixture of brandy and orange juice.
Paul Hollywood does not suggest that you ‘feed’ your cake with alcohol in this recipe. However, many people like to do this to further infuse the fruit with the spirit of your choice.
How do I feed Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake with brandy?
Start the process once the cake has cooled a little from the oven. Use a skewer to make holes in the cake and then use a spoon to pour the brandy or other spirit into the holes. Wrap up your cake, then reopen the wrappings every two or three weeks and feed your cake with more alcohol.
I usually give my cake a first ‘feed’ of brandy but don’t continue to feed it and find that it is still moist and delicious and not overwhelmed by the flavour of brandy. It is very much a matter of personal choice.
When should I make Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake?
Ideally, you should make your Christmas Cake around the middle to the end of October. You can then wrap it up tightly in baking parchment and foil and keep it in a cool dark place until you are ready to decorate it just before Christmas.
How do I store Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake?
When the cake is completely cold, wrap tightly it in baking parchment. Then cover with a double layer of aluminium foil. You can then place it in a cake tin or large plastic box and put it away in a cool dark place until you are ready to decorate it.
Can I freeze the Christmas Cake?
You can freeze the cake, but there is really no need to do so. A rich fruit cake like this will keep for up to 12 months if it is properly wrapped.
Can I make my Christmas Cake later?
You can make Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake right up to the week before Christmas. Although it might be a bit crumblier and will not develop the full flavour that you get by making it earlier.
If you are looking for a quick easy last-minute bake, then you can make my Last Minute Christmas Cake right up to Christmas Eve. It’s a lighter cake and it is designed to make at the last minute!
What ingredients do I need to make Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake?
You will need:
- Dried Apricots
- Glace cherries
- Crystallised Pineapple
- Candied Peel
- Blanched Almonds
- Soft Brown Sugar
What is crystallised pineapple?
Crystallised pineapple is fresh pineapple that has been dipped in sugar syrup then left to dry. The process of dipping in sugar syrup continues until the pineapple is preserved in a crunchy sugar coating.
Did you know that crystallised pineapple gets a mention in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling? Apparently crystallised pineapple is sold at Honeydukes sweetshop and was used by Tom Riddle to gain favour with Professor Horace Slughorn.
I can’t find any crystallised pineapple, what else can I use?
There is only a small amount of crystallised pineapple in the cake, so add the equivalent amount of dried fruit or more glace cherries.
What is candied peel?
Candied peel is the peel of citrus fruit, usually oranges and lemons. This is cooked to soften it then goes through the same process as crystallised pineapple. It is dipped in sugar syrup, then dried. This process is repeated many times until the peel is saturated with sugar.
I buy whole candied peel and chop it myself because I find the flavour is better. However, the ready chopped peel will work perfectly well for this recipe.
What are blanched almonds?
Blanched almonds are almonds that have had the outer brown skin removed. You can buy the almonds with the skin off already, but if you do have almonds in their skins, then put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them for 3-4 minutes, drain off the water and the skins should slip off easily.
What does Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake taste like?
The recipe is easy to follow and turned out well. It is full of different types of dried fruit and includes dried apricots and glace pineapple and prunes. I really liked the chunky pieces of almond which gave the fruit cake texture.
The cake is a golden colour and lighter than some rich fruit cakes. It is moist and very delicious with all the different dried fruits and the crunch of the chopped almonds. The cake cuts very well and holds together. The texture of the cake is quite dense but moist and not overly sweet.
How do I decorate Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake?
Decorate the Christmas cake in the traditional way with marzipan and icing (frosting). I use ready-made fondant icing because I find it easy to use, however you can also use Royal Icing which you make with icing sugar and egg whites.
Once the base of fondant or royal icing is in place you can decorate any way you like. In the photographs for this recipe, I use small sugar snowflakes. These sugar shapes are cupcake decorations that make a simple and effective effect.
You can buy cake decorations specifically for Christmas Cakes or make your own from coloured fondant. I add a wide ribbon around the cake and attach a bow to finish the festive look.
More Christmas Baking Recipes from Farmersgirl Kitchen
More Christmas Cake Recipes
Tin Can Mini Christmas Cakes – Eats Amazing
Pumpkin Fruit Cake – Fab Food 4 All
Rosca de Reyes, Spanish Epiphany Cake – Fuss Free Flavour
PIN FOR LATER
Paul Hollywood’s Christmas Cake
- 20 cm cake tin
- Large bowl or stand mixer
- Measuring spoons
- weighing scales
- Pastry brush
- small saucepan
- baking parchment
- rolling pin
- 450 g sultanas
- 225 g raisins
- 225 g dried apricots chopped
- 115 g prunes chopped
- 55 g glacé pineapple chopped
- 225 g glacé cherries chopped
- 225 g chopped candied peel
- 115 g blanched almonds toasted and very roughly chopped
- 1 orange juice
- 1 orange finely grated zest
- 70 ml brandy
- 225 g unsalted butter softened
- 200 g light muscovado sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 280 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 300 g quantity marzipan
- 1 tbsp Icing sugar for dusting
- 300 g fondant icing
- 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 450 g sultanas, 225 g raisins, 225 g dried apricots, 115 g prunes, 55 g glacé pineapple, 225 g glacé cherries, 225 g chopped candied peel, 115 g blanched almonds, 1 orange juice, 1 orange finely grated zest, 70 ml brandyCombine all the dried and glacé fruit, candied peel and almonds in a large bowl. Add the orange zest and juice, and the brandy.
- Mix well, cover and leave for several hours or overnight.
- Heat your oven to 150˚C. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round deep cake tin with a double thickness of baking parchment, cutting it so that it stands a good 5cm proud of the top of the tin.
- 225 g unsalted butter, 200 g light muscovado sugarIn a very large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for several minutes until pale and fluffy.
- 5 large eggsBeat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour with each to prevent the mixture from splitting.
- 280 g plain flourStir in the fruit mixture. Sift the remaining flour over the mixture and fold in, using a large metal spoon.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 3 hours, then check by insert a skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If not, give it a further 15–30 minutes. Leave the cake to cool before removing it from the tin.
To marizpan your cake
- 2 tbsp apricot jamWhen your cake is completely cooled – and ideally after a couple of days – you can marzipan and ice it. Warm the apricot jam gently in a saucepan with a splash of water to thin it down.
- Turn the cake upside down on a cake board. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam.
- 300 g quantity marzipan, 1 tbsp Icing sugar for dustingRoll out 300g of the marzipan to a large circle, on a surface dusted with icing sugar. It should be about 4mm thick.
- Use the cake tin as a guide and cut a round of marzipan to fit the top of the cake then position it.
- 300 g fondant icing, 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)Roll out the fondant out on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour (cornstarch) to a thickness of about 4mm. Use the cake tin as a guide and cut a round of fondant icing to fit the top of the cake.
- Brush a little water over the marzipan, then position the fondant icing to match the marzipan
- Wrap a ribbon around the side of your Christmas cake and finish as you wish with festive decorations.
This recipe is linked to #CookBlogShare the recipe link up for bloggers. This week it is hosted by We Made This Vegan