Nowadays you can pick up a half decent Christmas cake in most supermarkets, but any true cake fan knows nothing tastes as good as homemade! If you’ve never made your own Christmas cake before then why not give it a go this year, it’s easier than you think. We’ve put together this quick guide to get you started...

When should I start my cake?

With traditional fruit and alcohol based Christmas cakes, the earlier you can start, the better. Two months before Christmas is the optimum time, but anything up to a month before Christmas will yield a decent cake.

The reason Christmas cakes are started so early is so that the flavours of the dried fruits, spices, and alcohol have time to mature. Most people steep the cake with brandy or rum as these spirits complement the fruits and spices perfectly.

How do I make my cake?

Find a recipe that you like the look of and ensure that you have purchased all of the ingredients that you will need. Remember to allow yourself a good 3 or 4 hours to make and bake your Christmas cake. There are usually a lot of ingredients to be added so it can take a while to make the batter and get it into the lined cake tin.

Once in the tin, your cake will need to be baked on a fairly low temperature for a longer time than you would bake a Madeira cake for example. Most Christmas cakes take anywhere between two and four hours in the oven!

How do I feed my cake?

Once your Christmas cake is out of the oven you should leave it in the tin to cool down fully. With it being so dense with fruit this will take much longer than regular sponge cakes. When your cake is fully cooled remove it from the tin and prick the surface several times with a fine metal skewer. Pour over 2 to 3 table spoons of brandy or rum, and repeat this feeding process every two week until Christmas.

When do I ice my cake?

Around a week before Christmas your cake should have been fed enough and ready to be iced. Start by rolling out a generous layer of marzipan; cover the cake and smooth it down. Next roll out your sugar icing and lay it over the marzipan, again gently smoothing it down to get rid of kinks and bubbles. Once you’ve covered it in icing you’re ready to decorate it however you choose!