Instead of shopping for gifts this year I decided to make Traditional Irish Christmas cakes for my friends. I made eight in all, (thus all the pictures!), started to bake them in October and then every Saturday until the second week in December, gave them a shot of Irish whiskey, alternating top and bottom of cake. They were well and truly drunk by the time I did the first layer of marzipan. I gave the marzipan about a week to dry and then did a layer of fondant on some and royal icing on others. All the toppers were made out of fondant.They were a huge success, a new tradition perhaps?
Preheat oven 165 degrees Celsius/325 f.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR BAKING TIN.
First line the base and sides with brown paper and then with grease proof paper. Wrap the outside of the tin with a double layer of brown paper which you can tie with string. Cut an extra circle or square of grease proof paper, same as the base, that you can put on top of the cake after an hour in the oven to prevent the top burning.
Put the first nine ingredients in a bowl.Wash the cherries, quarter or halve (whichever you prefer). Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1-2 mins, rub off the skins and chop finely.(you can buy almonds already blanched). Add the Whiskey, mix and leave to marinate overnight.
Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs, add to mix gradually, beating well between each addition. Mix the spice with the flour and stir in gently but thoroughly. Add the grated apple to your fruit mix and stir into flour mixture. Mix well but gently. (Do not beat the mix anymore, it will toughen the cake).
Put the mixture into the prepared tin. Make a slight hollow in the center. Dip your hand in water and pat over the surface, this helps to make the top smooth when it's baked. Put in the preheated oven, reduce temp to 150 degrees after 1 hour. Bake for a further 3-3 1/2 hours. Test in center, skewer should come out completely clean. Pour a little whiskey over the cake and let cool on the tin.
NEXT day remove from tin. Do not remove the lining paper, but wrap in another layer of grease proof paper and outside that a layer of alluminum foil.
Once a week, pour a good shot of whiskey over the cake, having made a few holes with a toothpick. Alternate top and bottom. I put labels on my cake with the date, each time checking off whether I did the top or bottom. This also helps when you're ready for the marzipan, start with the oldest cake. I had baked all the cakes over a two week period.