It is important to remember that Christmas cakes are open to negotiation. If you don’t like an ingredient, then change it! Many are still undecided on what a Christmas cake should really be like; some people love their Christmas cakes to be heavy, dark and full of fruit and flavour. Others prefer a light cake with a zesty finish. Some love the sweet bread-like consistency of panettone for their Christmas cake whilst others will prefer the great German stollen cake with its luxurious fruit and marzipan filling.
There are many recipes available online and in books for all kinds of Christmas cakes, the key is to find one and make it your own. The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ definitely applies in this case, as it can be quite hard to find the perfect balance of dried fruit and moistness that create the perfect Christmas cake that your whole family will enjoy. It is important to consider the alcohol factor when baking your Christmas cake, it is much too often that more than enough alcohol is added to the cake resulting in an overbearing flavour to say the least! However just the right amount of alcohol can improve a cake and ensure that it actually gets better with age. The type of alcohol used can vary, normally brandy is used but why not experiment with an orange liqueur or an Irish cream.
One of the main ingredients in your Christmas cake will be dried fruit. Dried fruit is so widely available in most supermarkets that it’s definitely no problem to get hold of. All kinds of dried fruit are available so you can easily create and combine your own mix of dried fruits for your Christmas cake. When practising your Christmas cake why not vary the fruit use to see what combinations of baking supplies work best. Baking supplies are in easy demand but choose carefully. The better quality the ingredients, the better your cake will taste! Experiment with different raising agents. Yeast, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are all great for helping with that perfect texture.
The next step is to consider whether or not you will ice your Christmas cake. Icing equipment is available from most supermarkets or craft shops, all you have to decide is what kind of icing to use! For stollen normally a dusting of icing sugar is sufficient, but for the more traditional of fruit cakes then royal icing is used to completely cover the cake and then it can be decorated as you wish. Royal icing gives a snow like effect, perfect for Christmas; just get your cake decorating supplies ready and start being inventive! Snowmen decorations can easily be made from sugarpaste or royal icing or pre-bought. Use food colouring to make other cake decorations such as presents, Christmas trees, holly and even Santa Claus! Finish off your cake with placing it on a silver cake board for a really professional and festive look. Remember, practise makes perfect, so start preparing now so you’ll have your perfect result just in time for Christmas day.
The Perfect Christmas cake