Traditional Christmas Cake Ingredients 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces total) butter at room temperature 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar 4 eggs 3 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 1/2 cups each currants, golden raisins, dark raisins 1 1/3 cups soft dried figs, chopped 1 1/4 cups dates, pitted and chopped 1 cup chopped stoned dried prunes 1 3/4 cups chopped dried apricots 3/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped 2/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons brandy 2 teaspoons instant espresso, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Introduction: This rich cake can be made at the last minute before Christmas--it doesn't need to mature, although it keeps well, too.
Makes 30 servings. Total time: 4 hours 45 minutes, plus cooling time.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease a round 9- or 10-inch cake pan, and line bottom and sides with several layers of waxed paper.
Step 2: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, salt, and spices, then fold into the creamed mixture. Add the fruit, almonds, 2/3 cup brandy, and espresso, folding in well.
Step 3: Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, leveling the surface. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 275°F and bake for 3 1/2 hours longer or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Step 4: Remove the pan from the oven, cover with first a kitchen towel and then a thick bath towel so that the cake will cool slowly.
Step 5: When the cake is cool, prick the top with a skewer and drizzle with the extra brandy. Wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight container. Keep in a cool place for up to 3 months.
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