It’s been a few years since I posted My Perfect Christmas Cake recipe and in the years that have followed, I have continued to refine and improve my perfect recipe.
Dear reader, it is still a wonderful recipe, the cake is rich and moist, full of quality ingredients, and I guarantee, this is an easy cake to make. Yes, there are a few stages to go through, but it a joy to prepare and bake and the result is a beautiful cake for you to share at Christmas.
My Christmas cake recipe always starts by soaking dried fruits in alcohol. I usually choose brandy and port. This year I am adding an extra step that I know will give my cake that extra special, sweetrosie touch.
Instead of just splashing in the brandy, I’m going to take the time to first infuse my brandy with wonderful Christmassy spices and orange. My reasoning? Well, these dry spices would usually go into the cake with the flour. I think the brandy soak will extract some of the more complex, multi-layered compounds that give spices their entrancing taste and aroma.
Alcohol is extremely effective at dissolving the flavour compounds in our spices and orange. We won’t be achieving a true extract: that takes time and a greater volume of flavour elements than we’ll use, but, we will be producing a rich, delicious infused brandy, like a liqueur, with complex flavour notes and a luscious aroma.
One of the ingredients in my spiced brandy is actually a homemade, true vanilla extract. I have followed the guidelines laid out by the FDA and although my vanilla extract is still currently maturing, I did use some in this spiced brandy infusion. After only a couple of weeks maturing, this homemade vanilla extract already smells rich and delicious.
This is my recipe, actually just a roadmap for you to use as a guide, you might like to develop your own signature spiced brandy for your Christmas cake.
- 750ml brandy
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3/4’s of a freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 orange, cut into quarters and studded with 8 whole cloves
- 2 split vanilla beans (I used 2 split beans that have been infusing in about 100ml of vodka for 2 weeks)
- 1 sterilized jar, large enough to hold everything.
Put your spices, the vanilla and the orange pieces into your jar and pour over the brandy.
The orange will want to bob to the top and this is not ok. Everything must be covered by the brandy. You’ll need to weigh down everything inside the jar with something.
I used a little lid from a sugar bowl, it was a perfect fit, and the lip on it effectively pushed down the oranges into the jar.
You probably have a little sauce bowl or something around the house. I just know you’ll find something suitable.
I made the whole thing airtight with a ziploc bag, a layer of clingfilm and a couple of elastic bands.
It’s gone into the cupboard, right next to my homemade vanilla extract. I’m planning to make my Christmas cakes in 2 weeks time, I know that by then, I will have a beautiful spiced orange brandy to add that extra special bit of magic to this years’ Christmas cake.