Fun size is not normally fun. This is a truth universally acknowledged. However, time and time again I hear that people can’t get through a whole Christmas cake. If you’re one of these families, why not make lots of fun sized mini Christmas cakes and give the gift of baked dried fruit this Christmas to those you love. You can of course make gorgeous round mini Christmas cakes like these but I’m afraid I don’t have the patience for intricate lining. This recipe makes 18 cakes but you could easily halve it.
Mini last minute Christmas cakes with marzipan and fondant icing
Makes 18 individual cakes
150ml hot Lady Grey tea (Any old tea will do, I just like this a lot.)
3 tbsp Stones Ginger wine
3 tbsp cherry brandy
225g glacé cherries
115g dried apricots, chopped
1 tbsp of spice, I used Vanilla Pudding Spice which smells a bit like a Christmassy coffee shop, but you can use cinnamon or nutmeg or mixed spice or ginger…
225g castor sugar
6 large eggs, lightly beaten at room temp
230g self raising flour
90g ground almonds
2 tbsp brandy for soaking cake once baked
90g boiled and sieved jam
Icing sugar for rolling onto
30mls clear spirit such as vodka/gin
2.25kg white fondant icing
Extra coloured fondant for decorating
This is all about making Christmas cakes without the prep so to speed the soaking of the fruit, pop all the dried fruit in a microwavable bowl and add the booze and tea and spice. Stir, then cover with clingfilm and microwave for about 2 minutes on high, stirring every 30 seconds. Leave on the side to cool down.
Grease and line 2 traybake tins with straightish sides. Mine were about 20cm x 20cm. Preheat the oven to Gas 2/150C. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer/with a handheld mixer/with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating in one at a time, adding a tbsp of the flour with each egg. Add the rest of the flour and almonds, mix again until combined. Then whizz up half the dried fruit mixture in a food processor until it’s a purée and add this too. Whizz up again. Lastly add the other half of the fruit that wasn’t puréed and then mix well. Put half the mixture into each traybake tin and then bake for 30 minutes before turning the oven down to Gas 1/140C and baking for another 90 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the middle of the traybakes clean. Cool on a wire rack and brush with a little brandy whilst still warm.
Once cool use a serrated knife to cut any haphazard sides off that are not at right angles. I ate these. Very little waste unfortunately.
Then, turn smooth side up and cut into squares. I started off using a ruler and ended up just doing it by eye.
Then coat one of the squares of cake in boiled, warm jam. I used damson. Don’t coat the underneath. Wrap the rest of the cake in foil until you’ve finished the first one.
Roll out about 125g marzipan to about 4mm thick in a rough square shape. Do this on an icing sugar dusted surface.
Pop the marzipan over the cake and then using your hands, smooth, but don’t drag, the marzipan down and round.
Use a knife to cut around the marzipan overhang so that half a centimetre is left all round.
Then use a knife and your fingers to tuck this over and under.
Smooth the cake over and pinch the sides and corners a little to get a rough square shape back.
Paint in clear spirits then cover in fondant icing in exactly the same way as you did with the marzipan. I removed all rings for this stage as white fondant icing can be a little unforgiving where jewellery’s concerned.
Tuck the icing underneath again to give a smooth outer edge.
Use the white spirits to fix any decorations you make to the top of the cake, then leave to dry overnight before you package the cakes up.
A Christmassy cake that doesn’t make your teeth itch from fondant icing, or break them with fondant’s posh Royal sister. An honest fruit loaf, flecked with toasted almonds, a hint of gingerbread and topped with the lightest fluffiest brandy butter inspired icing you ever sunk your teeth into. It doesn’t keep for long, but then it won’t have to.
– 200g soft butter
– 200g soft dark brown sugar
– 400g self raising flour
– 100g sultanas
– 100g toasted flaked almonds
– 4 large eggs
– 4 tbsp milk
– 2 tbsp gingerbread syrup (if you don’t have it, substitute with more milk and 1 tsp ground ginger and cinnamon)
– 100g soft butter
– 245g icing sugar
– Zest of 1 orange
– 15mls brandy
This recipe makes a monster of a fruit loaf, big enough to fill a tin that measures 25 x 11 x 7cm. If you prefer your cakes on the dainty size then please feel free to halve the quantities. Look how big it is!
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and grease and line your loaf tin. Cream 200g butter with the soft brown sugar until creamy looking. Takes about 4 minutes using an electric mixer or about 10 minutes by hand with a wooden spoon. Then add the flour and mix again until you have a dry breadcrumby consistency. Next add the fruit and nuts (which you can substitute for whatever you like but please do toast whatever nuts you add as it makes all the difference to the end result.)
To your very dry looking crumble type mixture add all 4 eggs, the milk and the gingerbread syrup if you have it. Mix well until all combined then smooth into the loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes until a skewer comes out of the centre of the loaf clean. Do check it from 50 minutes onwards though as all ovens are very different. If it looks like it’s browning too quickly on the top but is still raw inside then feel free to fashion a foil hat for the top of the cake to protect it.
Leave to cool on a wire rack. Make the brandy butter icing by creaming 100g soft butter with the zest of an orange and the icing sugar. Once really fluffy (7 mins top speed in a stand mixer or at least 12 minutes with a wooden spoon) add the brandy and mix again.
Spread onto your cooled cake and add any decorations you fancy. Keeps for 5 days in an airtight tin or freezes very well without the icing too.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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