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St Clement's Christmas cake


Serves: 18-20
timePrep time: 40 mins
timeTotal time:
St Clement's Christmas cake
Recipe photograph by Maja Smend

St Clement's Christmas cake

A moist fruit cake with zesty lemon, orange and a hint of citrusy Earl Grey. Add a dash of edible essential oil to boost the bergamot flavour if you like

Serves: 18-20
timePrep time: 40 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories
400Kcal
Fat
15gr
Saturates
7gr
Carbs
54gr
Sugars
36gr
Fibre
1gr
Protein
6gr
Salt
0.4gr

Lucy Jessop

Lucy Jessop

Lucy, our former Food Editor creates lots of delicious meals each month. Her recipes are always packed with flavour and they're super easy too!
See more of Lucy Jessop’s recipes
Lucy Jessop

Lucy Jessop

Lucy, our former Food Editor creates lots of delicious meals each month. Her recipes are always packed with flavour and they're super easy too!
See more of Lucy Jessop’s recipes

Ingredients

Day 1 - for the fruit
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags (or regular)
  • 600g mixed dried fruit
  • 200g glacé cherries, quartered
  • 75ml Cointreau or limoncello
  • ¼ tsp bergamot oil for cooking* (optional)
  • zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
Day 2 - cake batter
  • 225g soft butter, plus extra to grease
  • 225g light brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp bergamot oil* (optional)
  • 100g almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
To feed, optional
  • 3-6 tbsp Cointreau, brandy or sherry

Step by step

Get ahead
Aim to make the cake about 4 weeks (and up to 12 weeks) ahead to allow the flavours to mature. Soak the fruit up to 48 hours before baking. Store the cake in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. Feed the cake a maximum of 6 times for a boozy flavour, at regular intervals of 1 or 2 weeks, depending on how far ahead you make it – stop feeding the cake a week prior to decorating.
  1. The day before you want to bake the cake, soak the fruit. Add the tea bags to 125ml freshly boiled water, cover and brew for 5 minutes. Place the dried fruit and glacé cherries in a large non-metallic bowl and stir in the Cointreau, bergamot oil (if using) and citrus juices and zests. Pour the hot tea over the fruit (discarding the tea bags). Mix well, cover and set aside at room temperature.
  2. When ready to bake the next day, grease a deep 20cm diameter cake tin and line the base and sides with a double layer of baking paper, ensuring the paper comes above the rim by at least 4cm. Wrap a folded strip of brown paper or newspaper around the sides of the tin and secure with a piece of soaked kitchen string. Prepare a double sheet of baking paper to loosely cover the top of the cake and cut a 5cm hole in the centre to allow steam to escape.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C, fan 140°C, gas 3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Sift over the remaining flour, baking powder, spices and a good pinch of salt and fold in. Add the bergamot oil, if using, and the almonds. Add the soaked fruit (including any liquid) in two stages, folding until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  4. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Cover loosely with the extra prepared paper and bake for 1 hour initially. Reduce the oven to 140°C, fan 120°C, gas 1 and bake for a further 2 hours, or until a metal skewer inserted comes out clean.
  5. Transfer to a cooling rack, leave in the tin for about 1 hour then remove from the tin and discard the lining papers. Use a cocktail stick to poke holes over the surface of the cake and then slowly drizzle with a tablespoon of Cointreau for the initial feed.
  6. Cool completely, then wrap in baking paper and foil and store in a cool, dry place. Feed another 2-5 times (see Get Ahead, above).
    For a smaller cake
    If you want to make a smaller cake, halve all the ingredients and bake in a 15cm diameter tin for 45 minutes initially, plus another 1 hour 30 minutes at the lower temperature.

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