There are some parts of a Christmas celebrations in Britain which can and must not ever change, and that is the Traditional Christmas Cake. No British Christmas is ever complete without this classic treat Cake on the table.
The temperature is low as the cake needs a long slow bake. It is packed with sugars, fruits and brandy and if the temperature is any higher the outside of the cake will burn and the inside be undercooked.
Line a 23cm (9") cake tin with 2 thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper. This acts as an insulator and to prevent the cake from burning on the outside
In a large roomy baking bowl mix the currants, sultanas, raisins, peel and cherries with the flour, salt and spices.
In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition
do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together. If it doesn't come back together
Carefully fold in half the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
Finally add the brandy.
Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin making sure there are no air pockets. Once filled smooth the surface with the back of s spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).
Finally, using a piece of paper towel clean up any smears of cake batter on the greaseproof wrapping, if left on they will burn
bake for 4½ hours.
If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 2½ hours.
During the cooking time avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.
After 4½ hours check the cake is cooked. The cake should be nicely risen and a deep brown all over. Insert a skewer or fine knife into the centre of the cake. If there is sticky dough on the skewer when you pull it out it needs cooking longer, if it is clean, the cake's done and remove from the oven.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.
Once cooled prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 - 3 tbsp brandy.
This should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas.
The cake should be stored wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper in an airtight tin.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) round deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Sift the wholemeal and white flours and the cinnamon into a large bowl, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Coarsely chop about two-thirds of the brazil nuts and stir into the flour with the raisins. Thinly slice the rest of the brazil nuts lengthways and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together the sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated carrots and orange zest and juice. With a large metal spoon, carefully fold the carrot mixture into the flour mixture, just until combined. Do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and peel off the lining paper. Cool completely.
To make the icing, put the ricotta in a bowl, add the sugar and orange zest, and beat with a wooden spoon.
When the cake is cold, spread the icing on top. Scatter over the reserved sliced brazil nuts, letting some stick up out of the icing at different angles. The cake can be kept, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.