It’s done. The Christmas cake is finished and after feeding it daily with whisky stolen from Mr’s stash (don’t tell him, but at some point he’ll notice the bottle of Ardbeg is empty) I am more than delighted with the results.
I was sent Delia’s Christmas Cake kit by the lovely Amanda French at ZPR, who’re doing the press for it for Waitrose. A heavy box of prepared ingredients, pre-weighed and ready to go arrives in my office and Ms French lays down the gauntlet for me to deliver a Christmas cake of sorts based on this box of tricks. It’s Delia’s original classic christmas cake and one of the most popular recipes she’s ever done (her words not mine). She’s even pre-soaked the fruits in brandy so all you need to do is empty the packs into a bowl, add eggs, butter, orange and lemon zests and mix it together and bake.
also includes the ready-to-roll-icing x 2 packets (if you’re lazy like me) and another packet of marzipan an orange and a lemon. Oh, also some silver balls to press in the icing to make a pretty Christmas star pattern. Then you’ll need more brandy (I’m using whisky – because I didn’t realise she’d used brandy on the fruit – good start) or whatever spirit you fancy to “feed it”.
The instructions are easy to follow and in the box is a wipe-down Delia recipe card. If you like uncooked cake mixture, you’ll love this. In fact I was pleasantly surprised a cake is what I took out of the oven. After eating what looked and felt like half the mixture, I expected a raisin-studded pancake.
Lining my non-stick tin with greaseproof paper was the most intense the whole process got, but with string, pencil and scissors I turned the kitchen into the set of Blue Peter and completed that without the help of an adult and also managed the newspaper collar.
The effort was truly worth it, as I unwrapped the cake like an Egyptian mummy, I expected chunks to drop off. Nothing did, there was no burning and no crusting. The cake was perfect.
I thought it was a brilliant idea to start baking at half past eight on a Saturday evening, stupidly though I forgot to read the recipe fully before I began and a slow four-hour bake meant I went to bed in the early hours – make sure you think very carefully before you start cracking those eggs.
The cake is probably one of the best I’ve ever turned out. Thank you Delia and Waitrose for this brilliant time-saving idea and for forcing my hand into making a Christmas cake. If I hadn’t been sent this kit, I think I would have bought it myself. The idea there’s a kit of parts to help make a cake with no waste is perfect for a busy girl like me. And, if I had bought the ingredients separately they would have been languishing in the back of my food cupboard making the mice fat.
“Good bake” I hear Paul Hollywood say, “A great all-round flavour” Mary Berry cheerily chirps in as I play out my contestant role in my fantasy version of the Great British Bake Off.
But it doesn’t stop there, just look how carried away I got. Not content with my marzipan and fondant icing layers or following Delia’s recipe with a simple silver bauble star effect, I go off message and decide to re-enact the full nativity with marzipan.
I hand-painted everything with food colouring and even passed marzipan through a potato ricer to get the wool effect. My only regret is not being able to mix a decent grey colour for the donkey. He is in fact the character to the right of your screen that looks a lot like a blackened cocktail sausage, poor thing. Now I come to think of it, the sheep doesn’t look much better. So, if you’re looking for a stable there’s isn’t one. I simply got carried away with my marzipan characters and my stocks depleted rather quickly (I also ate a fair amount during the moulding process.
Am I the only one to have gone all Bethlehem on the cake this year? Do you think pre-weighed kits are a good idea or take the fun out of baking?
Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake kit, now £7.50 and you’ve still time to feed, layer with marzipan and ice before the 25th. If I can do it you most definitely can!