Browse All Recipes

Ma Harvey’s Christmas cake

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Ma Harvey’s Christmas cake

By Rodney Dunn
  • Serves 12
Ma Harvey’s Christmas cake
Ma Harvey’s Christmas cake

Having eaten more than our fair share of Christmas cake in the Gourmet Traveller office, we’ve made a little adjustment to the traditional recipe, substituting candied orange for the usual mixed peel. You should be able to pick some up at a good delicatessen, or you could just as readily use freshly grated orange rind. The use of fruit cake for celebrations such as weddings, Christmas and christenings dates back to the early 18th century when dried fruit was highly prized. A rich cake containing lots of fruit was a sign of the household’s wealth. You have to appreciate, too, that in times past, making a fruit cake was no easy undertaking. The fruit needed to be washed, dried and stoned, the sugar cut from loaves, pounded and sieved. The eggs beaten for around half an hour by hand and the butter washed in water and rinsed in rosewater. The cakes were often covered in marzipan and elaborately decorated. Perhaps this is why they were reserved for special occasions. It can be made up to six months ahead.

This is my grandmother’s recipe and was a crowd pleaser at family gatherings because it’s moist, not too dark or rich. Begin this recipe 2 days ahead.

Ingredients

  • 500 gm sultanas (3 cups)
  • 500 gm raisins (3 1/3 cups)
  • 250 gm currants
  • 250 gm finely chopped candied orange
  • 180 ml brandy or rum (¾ cup)
  • 200 gm blanched almonds (1¼ cups)
  • 450 gm butter
  • 450 gm brown sugar
  • 9 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 450 gm plain flour (3 cups)
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method

Main
  • 1
    Combine dried fruit, candied orange and brandy or rum in a large bowl, cover and macerate overnight or longer if desired.
  • 2
    Finely chop 150gm almonds, reserving remaining almonds to decorate. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add eggs a little at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in fruit and chopped almonds, then add flour and baking powder and stir until well combined.
  • 3
    Line the base of a 23cm square cake pan with a double layer of brown paper and sides with 4 layers of brown paper, grease top layer of paper. Cut another piece for the top, lightly grease, snip a few holes in it and set aside.
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 130C. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth top and decorate with reserved almonds.
  • 5
    Cover with prepared brown paper and bake on lowest oven shelf for 5 hours. Turn heat off and cool cake overnight in oven.
SHAREPIN
  • Author: Rodney Dunn