Orange and almond Christmas cake
Cooking Time: 90 mins
- For cake:
- 200g of butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 200g self-raising flour
- The rind and juice of one small orange
- 100g of ground almonds
- For the almond paste:
- 130g ground almonds
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g icing sugar
- 1 large egg
- A dessert spoon of brandy
- To ice and decorate:
- 2 x 350g bags of instant royal icing .
- Icing sugar and mandarins to make dried orange slices
First make the almond paste. Sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar together. Add the caster sugar and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and brandy together with a fork and add two thirds of this liquid to the dry ingredients and bind them together.
Do not add all of the liquid at the start as you may or may not need it all, depending upon the size of your egg. Add the remaining liquid only if it is needed to bind the mixture together.
The almond paste should look like a ball of pastry after it has been kneaded together. Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until required.
Preheat an oven to 150 degrees/gas 2. Butter and line a deep eight-inch/20cm round cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Pour in the eggs and orange juice and beat well. Mix in the flour one third at a time. Fold in the ground almonds and orange rind until evenly mixed. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin.
Roll out the almond paste to a 7½ inch/19cm circle. Lay this on top of the cake mixture in the tin, and then cover with the rest of the mixture.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean; the skewer may be slightly sticky from the marzipan in the centre. Cover with foil after one hour. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To ice the cake, I used royal icing made by CPAC in Foxford, Co Mayo, as it has the whitest colour – some instant royal icings can have a bluish tinge. I used dried oranges to decorate. I find that mandarin oranges have the brightest colour. To dry the oranges, slice them thinly and lay them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Dredge them with icing sugar and dry out in the oven at 100 degrees/gas ¼ for three hours. These also make gorgeous Christmas tree decorations.