Deliciously Indulgent Christmas Cake

For an extra special Christmas cake this year try this recipe for a rich and moist cake with a hint of chocolate for pure indulgence!

For an extra special Christmas cake this year try this recipe for a deliciously indulgent, rich and moist Christmas cake with a hint of chocolate for pure indulgence!

Deliciously Indulgent Christmas Cake

Preparation time 1¾ hours plus soaking and drying Cooking time 2¼-2½ hours Serves 12-14 For the cake:
  • 125g dried sour cherries
  • 125g dried cranberries
  • 225g raisins
  • 150g glacé cherries
  • 50g walnut pieces
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 300ml Marsala wine
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 150g plain flour, sifted
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 300g Green and Blacks Maya Gold chocolate, roughly chopped
For the decoration:
  • 750g ready to roll icing
  • Green food colouring
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • Lolly sticks
  • Tube of white squeezy writing icing
  • Silver sugar balls
  • 3 tbsp apricot conserve
  • 450g white marzipan
Method:
  1. Starting the day before you bake the cake, place the dried fruits, cherries, nuts, orange zest and juice and Marsala into a large bowl. Stir really well, cover and leave to soak for 24 hours to allow the fruit to plump up and take on the flavour of the Marsala.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/gas mark 1. Line a deep, 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Mix in the treacle and stir well. Add the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and mixed spice, mix well then lastly add the chocolate. Stir until well combined.
  3. Stir in the soaked fruits along with all of their juices and mix well. Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin, level the top and bake for 2¼-2½ hours until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven then leave in the tin for 30 mins before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. When cold wrap in foil and store in an airtight container for a few weeks to allow the flavours to mature.
  4. Make the trees a few days before you are ready to decorate the cake by kneading a 50g piece of ready to roll icing until pliable. Dip the end of a skewer into the green food colouring and tap the skewer gently over the icing to transfer drops of colour onto it. Lightly knead the colouring into the icing to create streaks of colour for a marbled effect.
  5. Colour another piece of icing as before but this time make it a solid green by kneading well until the colour is even throughout. Add more colour a little at a time, kneading as you go, until you reach the desired shade.
  6. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar then roll out a piece of coloured icing to the thickness of about 5mm. Cut out a few trees in different sizes making sure you cut two each of the same size so they can be sandwiched together later on. Repeat with the other piece of coloured icing and also a piece of white icing.
  7. Dab water over the backs of half the trees then stick a lolly stick to the back of each one leaving about 3cm of the stick showing below the tree  to allow for pushing into the cake. Sandwich the remaining trees on top of the matching ones so the lolly stick is firmly sandwiched between them.
  8. Decorate the trees with writing icing and silver balls held in place with a tiny blob of writing icing. Leave to dry out on a sheet of baking paper for 2-3 days.
  9. To decorate the cake, warm the apricot conserve in a saucepan until runny then brush over the top and sides of the cake. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan into a 35cm round, 6mm in thickness. Carefully lift the marzipan onto the cake, easing it down the sides and pressing to the sides with your whole hand. If any thick creases form, just rub them firmly with your fingers. Use a knife to trim the icing around the bottom of the cake for a neat finish..
  10. Knead the reminder of the icing into a smooth ball then roll out into a 37cm round, 6mm in thickness. Gently lift onto the cake and smooth using the same technique as with the marzipan. Trim the bottom of the icing.
  11. Gently smooth the top of the icing using the palm of your hand. Insert the trees by pushing the lolly sticks gently but firmly into the cake. Decorate the cake with coloured ribbon to finish.

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