Royal Christmas Cake

Royal Christmas Cake

Tips for making fruit cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cloves

1 ½ cups dried currants

1 ½ cups dark or golden raisins

1 ½ cups diced mixed candied fruits and peels

1 cup candied cherries

½ cup almonds, ground

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

¾ cup butter, melted

½ cup rum or orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Rum, brandy, or orange juice

1-8 ounce can almond paste

Royal icing (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease the bottoms and sides of two, 9-inch round layer cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper and grease the paper. Sprinkle the bottom and sides with flour.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in the currants, raisins, fruits and peels, cherries, and almonds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs with a fork. Add the sugar, butter, ½ cup rum and lemon juice; stir until combined. Stir the egg mixture into the fruit mixture; pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes; loosen edges. Remove from the pans. Cool the Royal Christmas Cake thoroughly on the wire racks.

Wrap the layers separately in cotton cheesecloth moistened with rum. Wrap with foil. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks. Remoisten cheesecloth with additional rum if it becomes dry, making sure it stands for at least a day after re-moistening.

To assemble, up to 2 hours before serving, unwrap the cakes. Place 1 cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. Spread with half of the almond paste. (If the paste is too thick to spread, divide in half and shape into balls. Place each ball between 2 sheets of waxed paper; flatten slightly. With a rolling pin, roll each portion into a 9 ½-inch circle; trim to form a 9-inch circle. Remove paper from one circle; invert onto cake.) Spread ¾ cup Royal Icing over almond paste on first cake layer. Add the second cake layer, top side up; spread or top with remaining almond paste. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining Royal Icing. Let stand at least 30 minutes to allow icing to set. Serve within 2 hours of frosting.

Royal Icing:

In a large mixing bowl combine one 16 ounce package powdered sugar (about 4 ½ cups), 3 tablespoons meringue powder and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Add ½ cup warm water and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined; beat on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until very stiff. Use this icing on the Royal Christmas Cake. To tint, divide the icing into small portions. Add enough food coloring to each portion to make desired colors.

Source: "Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Sweets and Treats", Meredith Books, 2005

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