Kevin Dundon’s Christmas Cake
Located on the dramatic Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, in Ireland’s Ancient East, Dunbrody House Hotel is owned and operated by husband and wife team Kevin & Catherine Dundon. Their luxury boutique hotel reflects their joint passion for excellence in all areas – fine food, a friendly, relaxed service combined with luxury accommodation all within the centuries-old walls of a beautiful Georgian property.
As a celebrity chef, cookbook author and TV personality, Kevin is a familiar face in the Irish food scene.
While Dunbrody House Hotel is well-known for its luxurious surroundings and delicious food, the Dunbrody Cookery School is the perfect spot for budding cooks to hone their skills – from budding enthusiasts (Back to Basics) to the experienced gourmet (specialized courses).
Kevin Dundon’s Christmas Cake
100 glacé cherries, quartered
50g candied mixed peel, chopped
40g ground almonds
60g flaked almonds
Half a lemon, grated, rind and juice
Three-quarters of an orange, grated, rind and juice
1 dessert apple, peeled and grated
200g dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
240g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tbsp. treacle or molasse, (optional)
To feed the cake
4 tbsp Irish Whiskey to soak the cake after it’s baked (optional)
To decorate the cake
4 tbsp. apricot jam
For the royal icing:
450g/1lb icing sugar
2 egg whites
½ tsp glycerine
How to make an Irish Christmas Cake:
Using double thickness greaseproof paper, line the base and sides of either an 8in or 9in cake tin. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin. The paper helps absorb some of the oven heat and protects the cake from overcooking.
Mix the dried fruit, cherries, candied peel, almonds and ground almonds together. Stir in the lemon and orange rind, juices and grated apple. Leave to one side while you make the cake mixture.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sieve the flour and spices, and fold half the flour into the cake mixture. Stir in half the dried fruit mixture followed by the remaining flour and dried fruit. Stir in enough treacle to darken the cake. The mixture should have a soft dropping consistency. If it looks a tad dry, add a dash of brandy. Spoon into the prepared tin and make an indentation in the centre of the cake. This helps ensure an even rise.
Bake the cake for about three hours, until it’s firm to the touch. When the cake is pierced with a skewer, it should come out clean. If it looks as if it’s getting too brown in the oven, cover the surface of the cake with several layers of greaseproof paper.
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Don’t bother taking the greaseproof paper off though. Pierce the cooled cake with a skewer and drizzle over a spoon of Irish whiskey. Do this a couple of times while it is maturing – once a week should be enough. If you can, it’s a good idea to give the cake about three weeks to mature before covering it with almond paste.
Wrap the cake in several layers of greaseproof paper and keep in an airtight box.
To apply marzipan to a round cake:
If the cake isn’t very level, turn the cake upside down and marzipan the base instead of the top. The top and sides of the cake are covered separately. Measure around the circumference of the cake using a piece of string. Brush the top with boiled apricot jam.
Dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out one-third of the marzipan for the top of the cake. Turn the cake onto the almond paste and trim away excess almond paste with a sharp knife so it fits the exact size of the cake. Turn the cake the right way again and set on a cake board.
Brush the sides of the cake with apricot jam and roll out the remaining almond paste to an oblong, the length of the piece of string. The width should be about the same height as the cake. Carefully roll up the almond paste oblong and smooth onto the sides of the cake. Trim with a sharp knife so that the paste fits the shape of the cake.
Leave the cake for about five days so that the almond paste has a chance to dry before covering with royal icing.
For the royal icing:
Lightly whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until they are just beginning to get frothy. Stir in a couple of spoons of icing sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating well between each addition. Stir in the glycerine – this helps stop the icing from setting rock solid.
If you fancy flat-icing your cake, keep the icing fairly soft – a wooden spoon should stand upright in the icing and slowly fall to one side. For piping, you should add more icing sugar to make a stiffer icing which will hold its shape. It’s a good idea to make the icing a day before you need it and let it sit in a covered bowl overnight. This way, the air bubbles will rise to the surface and you’re more likely to have a smoother finish when it comes to icing the cake. Spread this over the cake in a decorative fashion.
Christmas Made Easy
Looking for a special gift idea this Christmas? It’s time for some festive magic this year by giving someone the “Gift of Ireland” and to spread the wanderlust. Christmas is the prime opportunity to give the “Gift of Ireland“, and to say a special thanks to your friends and loved ones with the most precious gifts of all – experiences and memories.
For a special taste of Christmas in Ireland this week, Kevin’s Christmas Made Easy online course is spread over seven days with daily recipes, tutorials, cooking demos and two live cook-alongs, with all recipes downloadable. The perfect blend to help you learn practically and to be able to reproduce the dishes at home in your own kitchen.
Passionate about Good Irish Food.
Our qualified team at Specialized Travel Services can arrange your very own Taste of Ireland, incorporating luxury vehicles, local guides, fantastic food trails, Irish Whiskey tours, cookery demonstrations and fine dining to match your taste and interests.
Whether you choose a private chauffeur guided tour, or specialized self-drive itinerary, or a family reunion with some foodie fun, we can put together a unique Taste of Ireland Culinary adventure customized just for you, your family and your friends.
For your perfect private gourmet travel experience around the Emerald Isle in 2021 or for more information contact Specialized Travel Services by sending us an email to email@example.com or complete our contact form.
Get a flavor of what we can arrange for you by sampling one of our culinary tours – Fresh, mouth watering flavours, passionate suppliers and authentic traditions handed down through generations – Why not get tucked in and treat yourself to some locally, Irish made goodness.
Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of Dunbrody House, County Wexford © Ireland’s Blue Book
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