Christmas cake (british)

Yield: 12 servings

Measure Ingredient
2 pounds Mixed dried fruit
4 ounces Glace' cherries
4 ounces Candied fruit
3 ounces Blanched almonds
10 ounces Plain flour
1 x Pinch salt
¼ teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon Mixed spice
4 xes Eggs
½ teaspoon Flavoring (vanilla, lemon)
1 tablespoon Blackstrap molasses
8 ounces Butter
8 ounces Soft brown sugar
1 x Whisky to soak fruit
250 millilitres Milk (to mix)

(Note: (1) The mixed dried fruit should be such things as seedless raisins and currants. (2) The ½ teaspoon of "flavoring" can be almond, or lemon, or vanilla, or a mixture of the three. (3) "Mixed spice" is a combination of cinnamon, allspice and mace: about ⅓ of each.) -- Find a 9-inch cake pan at least three inches deep; grease it, and line the bottom and sides with a double thickness of greased baking parchment. Tie folded brown paper or newspaper around the outside of the pan. (The paper is insulation, to keep the sides of the cake from scorching as it bakes.) Set oven to 320-300F: have folded paper to stand the pan on when baking -- place low in oven. Pick over the dried fruit, removing any stems, etc. Wash, drain well and spread over a cloth on a tray to dry. When dry, put in a bowl and pour a small wine-glass of spirit over it. Cover well and leave overnight. -- Next day, add chopped peel, blanched chopped almonds, and cherries minced and drained. Mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour, salt, soda and spice.

Beat the eggs well with the molasses and flavoring. Put the butter into a large warmed bowl and beat until soft; then add the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the egg mixture, about a sixth of it at a time, then fold in half the flour mixture. Add remainder of the flour to the fruit and mix well. Add fruit to creamed mixture and fold in well. Put into pan and bake for about 3½ to 4 hours or until done. If top of cake is browning too fast, cover with a few thicknesses of paper. Reduce the oven heat slightly every hour -- about 10 degrees. Test with skewer for doneness. Keep the paper wrapped around the cake in place until completely cooled, so that the cooling takes place slowly. After completely cooled, invert the cake, lift the baking parchment off the bottom, and sprinkle the cake generously with the spirit of your choice. Wrap well in foil, put in a sealed tin, and keep in a cool place (not necessarily refrigerated) . The cake benefits from occasional unwrappings and sprinkling with more spirit.

It takes about 2 months to achieve maximum "mellowness".

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