However upmarket you go, no shop-bought Christmas cake rivals the one you make at home says Jo Rees
The idea for this cake has its origins in a Delia recipe for a last-minute cake but has metamorphosed over the years to become its own unique version. Because it’s got mincemeat in it (essentially already pre-soaked/matured fruit) you can actually make it pretty late on in December and still have it ready for Boxing Day tea, but you can also bake it weeks in advance and feed it with brandy or rum in the conventional way.
If you’re not used to making your own Christmas cake, you might be surprised to learn you can – to a remarkable degree – switch up the ingredients to turn it into your own bespoke bake.
The type of fruits, nuts, sugar and booze are all pretty interchangeable for other things of the same type and, as long as the basic ratios stay the same, you won’t go wrong.
This cake flirts with convention by featuring candied pineapple, dates, toasted coconut, rum and lots of juicy Chilean flame raisins. Or follow the more regular Christmas cake route and use mixed fruit, candied peel, glacé cherries and almonds.
On the booze front, brandy is traditional but we’ve plumped for spiced rum as it’s good with the pineapple, coconut and the caramel note in the dates.
Whichever version of Christmas cake you conjure this season, aim to combine flavours you favour with others that are natural pairings. For example, if you use brandy, consider dried cherries as an addition to the fruit mix.
Similarly, you can make your cake lighter or darker in colour and flavour depending on the type of sugar used. This recipe contains light muscovado but if you prefer a darker, more treacly cake, dark muscovado is your go-to.