Traditional Irish Christmas Cake

Traditional Christmas Cake

Irish Christmas Cake: an amazing and special dessert prepared in Ireland under Christmas and which represents the quintessence of Irishness at Christmas.

It is a dessert that takes away so much time and that it should be prepared a few days in advance because it has to rest so to be carefully cut on Christmas day, immediately after lunch with the family; someone prepares it 15/20 days before Christmas, leaving it to rest in a lightly and constantly wet cloth. Then, on the evening of December 24th, it’s decorated so as to bring it to the table on the 25th all beautiful and pompous.

Today the Irish Christmas Cake is quite “easy” to prepare because the ingredients are easily available; once was considered a sort of reward after months and months of work and effort. In fact, the candied fruits were not easily found and they did cost a lot for which the cut of the cake, whose origins date back, really meant that Christmas had arrived, the time when people ate something different from the vegetable soup, bacon, and potatoes.

Before moving on to the recipe, I want to remind you that the temperature of the oven is the thing that most influences this recipe and varies depending on your oven. For my oven at 130°C/266°F it is perfect but it is good to check the instructions attached to the appliance and above all to take advantage of the past experiences for cooking the Irish Christmas Cake.

Ingredients for an 18cm/8″ round cake tin

  • 225 grams of all-purpose flour
  • 175 grams of butter
  • 175 grams of muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • The peel of a lemon
  • The peel of an orange
  • 1 teaspoon of powder cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of powder cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of powder ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons of whiskey
  • 200 grams sultanas
  • 150 grams raisins
  • 100 grams currants
  • 100 grams of candied orange and lemon
  • 100 grams of chopped almonds
  • 100 grams of almond flour

How to make a perfect Irish Christmas Cake

  1. Put the raisins, the sultanas and the currants in a bowl, add 4 tablespoons of brandy and mix well then cover and let the brandy absorb for 12 hours.
  2. Turn on the oven at 130°C/266°F and line an 18cm/8″ round tin with a double layer of parchment paper.
  3. Pour the flour, the butter at room temperature, the sugar, the eggs, the peel of the lemon and the orange, the mixed spices, the nutmeg and beat until a smooth and creamy mixture is obtained.
  4. Pour the raisins and candied fruits plus almonds and almond flour in the mix and mix well using a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined. Your mixture will be extremely sticky at this point.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the pan, leveling the surface and then bake for about 5 hours always at a low temperature (130°C/266°F). The cooking can be checked by using the toothpick test (Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. Pull it out and if it’s fully baked, there won’t be any wet batter on it).
  6. Once it is completely cooled, wet it slightly with whiskey and wrap it well in three sheets of parchment paper. Store the cake in an airtight container, letting it soak in the whiskey and wetting it every 3-4 days with more whiskey so that it stays longer.
  7. If you want to decorate the cake, take some honey and spread it on the surface, then put a marzipan layer first, followed by a layer of white royal icing. Add other Christmas-themed sugar decorations and consume after at least 24 hours after it was decorated by cutting it into slices of the desired size.

Preparation time: 36 hours

Christmas Cake

More advice for your perfect Irish Christmas Cake

  • Apparently, the candied peel is hard to get in the USA. You have two choices: leave it out if you like or make your own by following this method (omitting the chocolate cover);
  • If you want a stickier cake, with a browner color, you can add a tablespoon of Golden Syrup to the mix;
  • In fairness, you should use Irish Butter for your Irish Christmas Cake. Irish butter is richer and less watery, and this definitely makes a difference in baking this cake;
  • The tin you use for the cake has to be of high quality otherwise the cake won’t cook properly. If you can get one with the loose base, like this, is even better;
  • Christmas cake lasts for months if wrapped and stored properly. Wrap the cake with greaseproof paper, then wrap this in tinfoil or put into an airtight tin. The only thing to do to make sure the cake will last is feeding constantly it with whiskey.