Friday, November 4, 2016

Janette Miller's Xmas Cake Best Ever Recipe

Janette Miller - Xmas Cake  Secret Recipe

This recipe was given to me a long time ago in the 1980s by an old friend. I found out later that she had made it up with food she had had in her larder and had no idea what she had done! It was magic then and magic now. My friends and family think it is the best ever and it is truly delicious but takes an age to make. So I thought this year I would share the recipe with you and what is more the best way to make it. For Xmas it takes 4 days and I cook it in last weekend in October. It takes about 8 weeks to age and feed with a little brandy. ( seriously not too much as if you over do the brandy it ruins the lovely flavours.)

Day 1 Buying and collecting Ingredients

(maybe 2, 3 or 4 days if ingredients hard to find. Last year no almond essence, not even for ready money!)


  • 375g Raisons
  • 375g Currants
  • 400g Sultanas
  • 100g Figs finely chopped (Absolute must)
  • 300g Cherries glace real (2pkts)
  • 150g Peel
  • 150g Ground almonds
  • 150g Almond slices (for crunch)
  • 250g Dark brown sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 250g flour, plain or self raising
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Salt, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, allspice,  grated nutmeg 
  • 2 dps Treacle (must for colour)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla and almond essence (go easy on this) grated orange peel and juice
  • Grated lemon peel and juice to one cup
  • Grated orange peel and juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 5 large eggs.
  • A good square Xmas Cake tine 9 inches, 20 cm

Try to buy real glace cherries but if stuck and you have to use red gelatine blobs for colour give them a good wash. I do not use angelica or the green blobs!

I find cooked walnuts make cakes bitter so do not add to cake. You can decorate with them though. I add sliced almonds for crunch.

2nd Day - Preparation

Prepare to soak all the fruits, peel, figs, glace cherries in the brandy and sherry and leave to soak overnight. I wash my fruit but I suppose the brandy would kill off any nasties. Do not bother soaking the currants as they don't soak.  I wash  these. Waste of effort! I prepare the baking tin brown and non stick baking papers and line the tin box with foil and grease proof paper and I get out all the packets of ingredients. I write a list so I can check them off as it is easy to forget something. Before I begin baking I add everything that is wet, like lemon and orange juice, currants, almonds, treacle,essence, coffee etc.

I leave the butter out over night too to soften. If you forget this give a very quick 10 sec micro wave when it is cut into pieces, no more. Overnight softening makes life easier.

Day 3 Cooking and baking 

First I was my hands really well and I get out all of the utensils that I think I might need. I shall forget some but having most of what I need to hand helps as this is a massive job. 

I paste inside the tin with melted butter and stick the baking papers to it. Then I give a good melted buttering to the inside. I take care over this as it protects the cake from burning when cooking.

I use the Delia Smith method and take ages over the creaming of sugar and butter. See YouTube. down below. I am very careful about adding the 5 beaten eggs. This can take many minutes, 20 in fact as you do not want the mixture to curdle.  I do it desert spoon at a time, little and beat in well. If it does it does not matter but cake won't rise as much.You can add a little flour to try and get it together but I don't find this helps. If you are brave you can use very dark Demerara sugar in NZ it is Billingtons but this is harder to use than soft dark brown sugar as it is gritty. Makes a wonderful cake though.

Then when all is mixed and sort of fluffy fold in flour, and I mean fold with figure of 8 gently all the dry goods, salt, ground almonds, spices and anything that you have forgotten. This is hard work if you do not have a big chef machine. (coffee?)

When all dry goods are in add the fruits. I have to do this in two batches as my bowl is not big enough. I do this with my hand mixer but it does not take long. Then into baking tin. Mine is 9 ins 20 cm I think. All the mixture goes in surprisingly.

Then place brown paper on outside held with string and into oven at 140c. For me with a Bosch oven it is on the lowest shelf but for other ovens one shelf below centre.

I  pre-heat my oven  but ovens go down to zero when a cold dish is inserted so you could start from cold I suppose. I do sprinkle a little water on top and place 2 folds of baking paper lightly on the top with a hole in the middle.

Now here is the spooky bit. For a nine inch tin bake at 140c for 4.5 hours and do not, repeat do NOT be tempted to open the oven door until 4 hours is up. Then you may. Your cake may be cooked. You can see I have an oven thermometer for accuracy but the Bosch oven is absolutely accurate so I ned not have bothered. This timing is for Bake NOT Fan bake. I don't like fan bake as I find it dries my cakes up. 

I won't patronise you by telling you how to check but if the pin does not come clean just keep on testing every 10 minutes till it does. Mine was cooked at 4 hours but I gave it a bit longer.

During this time you can wash up. The washing up is colossal and will take 4.5 hours even with a dishwasher.

4.5 hours later and here it is! Wow what a smell. Leave in tin till cold.

This one rose beautifully!

When cold wrap in grease proof paper and foil and put away for a month in a cool place. Not the fridge!


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