Author: Rowling, J.K.
Book: Harry Potter
Difficulty rating: Anna Karenina
Deliciousness rating: Poor
Mrs Weasley had sent him a scarlet jumper with the Gryffindor lion knitted on the front, also a dozen home-baked mince pies, some Christmas cake and a box of nut brittle. (Book 3: UK 241, US 222)
Did it measure up?
Nope. This cake is SUCH A PAIN IN THE ASS — it actually takes MONTHS of annoying fiddly steps. Aaaaand it doesn’t even taste good. It sure looks pretty and festive, but we don’t understand how anyone would want to make and eat this thing every year. Stick to the aged eggnog, we say!
- 700g raisins
- 300g currants
- 100g dried cherries
- 150g chopped pecans
- 400ml bourbon
- 300g Kerrygold butter
- 180g dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbs molasses
- 1 tsp almond essence
- 300g flour
- 150g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Almond paste layer
- About 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed in the microwave
- Powdered sugar
- 250g almond meal
- 150g sugar
- 150g powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- Royal icing
- 1 tsp almond essence
- 3 egg whites
- 675g powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1.5 tsp glycerine
Prepare the ingredients the night before.
1. The night before baking: Place all the dried fruit in a pot, and add the bourbon. Bring to the boil and then take it off the heat. Cover once it’s cooled, and let it soak overnight. Take the eggs and butter out of the fridge so they’re room temperature.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Prepare your cake pan.
3. Line the sides and the bottom of a deep, round cake pan with a double layer of parchment paper. Lost? Follow our handy step-by-step photos:
Mix the cake:
4. Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the lemon zest.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the molasses and almond extract.
6. Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix the soaked fruit alternately with the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Combine thoroughly. Fold in pecans.
Bake the cake:
7. Put the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 2.75-3.25 hours. Poke a toothpick into the cake. If it comes out cleanish, it’s good.
8. When the cake is done, brush it with a couple tbs of bourbon. Wrap in a double layer of foil in its pan.
Wrap and age the cake:
9. When it’s cooled, remove the cake from the pan and rewrap in the parchment paper, plastic wrap, and foil.
10. Every two weeks, take the cake out of the wrappings and brush the top with a tbs or two of bourbon. Then rewrap and store.
Ice the cake:
11. 1 week and 3 days before eating the cake (apparently, you can decorate the cake up to 3 weeks ahead of time): Stand the cake upside down, flat-side up, on a cake board that’s 5 cm larger than the size of the cake. Brush the sides and the top of the cake with warm apricot jam.
12. Cover the cake in almond paste. Sift the almond flour, sugar, and powdered sugar separately, and then sift them together. Add the egg white and almond essence. Knead with your hands in the bowl to form a stiff dough, but take care not to overknead because it’ll get too oily.
13. Dust a work surface with icing sugar. Roll out the almond paste to about 5 cm larger than the surface of the cake. Keep moving the almond paste as you roll, checking that it is not sticking to the work surface. Dust the work surface with more icing sugar as necessary.
14. Carefully lift the almond paste over the cake using a rolling pin. Gently level and smooth the top of the paste with the rolling pin, then ease the almond paste down the sides of the cake, smoothing it at the same time. Trim excess almond paste from the base of the cake with a small sharp knife.
15. Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment and leave for a few days to dry out before icing.
16. 1 week before eating the cake: frost with royal icing. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they become frothy.
17. Mix in the powdered icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. You can do this with a hand-held electric whisk, but keep the speed low.
18. Stir in the lemon juice and glycerine and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks.
19. Spread the royal icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife.
20. Leave the cake loosely covered overnight for the icing to harden a little.
21. Store the cake in an airtight container in a cool place until the feast.
22. Decorate with ribbon and sprigs of holly. (And gold stars if you have them.)