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Christmas Cake Time

Whiskey Matured Christmas Cake
Whiskey Matured Christmas Cake

There are some traditions worth keeping and baking the Christmas Cake in November is one I love. The house smells delicious and gets me into the seasonal mood – in this strangest of years, anything that lifts your spirit is good!

It also gives me plenty of time to “feed” the cake, each week unwrapping it from layers of baking parchment and carefully spooning over delicious Irish whiskey (Clonakilty Whiskey of course!). The cake is then re-wrapped and popped into the pantry to mature for another week, with the ritual repeated until just before Christmas week. By Christmas Eve we have a rich, moist cake that will be served throughout Christmas as a treat with a cuppa or glass of something stronger…..

This year I made two cakes, this first one for Christmas and the second to eat over the next couple of weeks. I made the second as I was afraid we’d be too tempted to slice into the Christmas Cake and have nothing to leave Santa when he visits on Christmas Eve. The first recipe is based on one from Australian Women’s Weekly magazines that I have been baking successfully for the last 10 years. I have tweaked it a bit to suit our own tastes.

The second cake is a mix of boiled fruit cake and Dundee Cake – the layer of blanched almonds and pecans on top replace traditional icing and are so delicious! This would be just as good for your Christmas Cake if you were making just the one.

Is it too early to say Happy Christmas?!

Traditional Christmas Cake

Ingredients:
500g sultanas
225g raisins (a mix of regular & golden is good)
120g currants
110g mixed peel
200g glace cherries, halved
2 tblsp orange marmalade (with rind)
125ml whiskey (you can use dark rum or brandy too)
250g butter, softened
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
220g soft dark brown / muscovado sugar
4 large free range eggs
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp mixed spice

1. Start the day before by combining the dried fruit, marmalade and whiskey in a large bowl. Mix well, cover and allow to rest overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 150C reg / 130C fan. Line a 22cm round cake tin with triple layers of baking parchment. Make sure the paper rises approx 5cm above the top of the cake tin.
3. Beat the butter, zests and sugar together in a bowl, then add the eggs one at a time mixing well between each addition.
4. Stir this butter mixture into the soaked fruit, then sift in the dry ingredients. Combine well before spooning mix into the prepared tin. Smooth the top and pop into the preheated oven on a lower middle shelf.
5. Bake for approx 3 hours, testing after 2.5hrs by inserting a skewer
6. Remove and while still warm, carefully soon a large tablespoon of whiskey (or your preference) over the top of the cake. When the cake has cooked completely, wrap in grease proof or baking parchment and cove with tin foil on the the outside. Store in a cool, dry place then check weekly and spoon more whiskey over the top.

IMG 6131

Boiled Fruit & Nut Cake

Ingredients:
1kg mixed fruit – the luxury own-brand mixes are ideal for this.
250g butter, cubed
275g dark or muscavado sugar
250ml sherry or port
60ml water
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
75g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
Whole blanched almonds & pecans to decorate the top

1. Preheat the oven to 150C reg / 130C fan. Line a 22cm round deep cake tin with triple layers of baking parchment. Make sure the paper rises approx 5cm above the top of the cake tin.
2. Combine the dried fruit, butter, sugar, 180ml alcohol and the water in a large saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until butter melted and sugar combined. Gently bring to boil then remove from heat. Tip into a large bowl and allow to cool.
3. Stir the zest and eggs into the cooled mixture, then add the sifted dry ingredients. Stir until well combined then pour into the cake tin. Smooth the top gently then add the almonds and pecans around the top.
4. Bake cake for approx 3 hours, checking after 2.5 hours by inserting a skewer. Once cooked remove, sprinkle the remaining alcohol over the top while warm then allow to cool fully in the tin.

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