Liggy Morgan of the award-winning, Edinburgh-born cake boutique, Liggy’s Cakes shares her Stir-up Sunday traditions with us…
"For us, Christmas is all about fantastic food and spending time with the family. So needless to say, the cake is as big a part of Christmas as the roast and the pressies. Stir-up Sunday began with a much anticipated road trip down to my Gran’s house in Norfolk – most likely where my love of baking began.
"Getting together in her cosy kitchen on the Sunday afternoon, we’d all be assigned a job with Gran as head baker, a position sought after for years by my sister and I. Once the cooking was done, we would all relax with a brandy or mulled wine (non-alcoholic for us of course!), and chat about what we were hoping for, for Christmas and the New Year.
"My Gran would then feed the cake with brandy each week in the run up to Christmas before carefully travelling with it back up to Scotland for Christmas Eve. It would still need to be iced, so I would help with the icing - it was always the traditional snow scene made with peaked royal icing rather than the smooth fondant we now use in the shop. We wouldn't get to taste it until Christmas day but when we did it always tasted that little bit better knowing we’d all had a hand in it. And no matter how full you were you always had room for a little slice in the evening!"
Liggy’s Christmas Cake
Makes an 8" square or a 9" round fruitcake
• 100ml brandy (plus extra for feeding)
• 200g currants
• 200g raisins
• 50g mixed peel
• 200g sultanas
• 100g glace cherries - I like the garish red ones but you can use the natural ones if you prefer!
• 200g dark brown sugar
• 5 large free range eggs
• 200g salted butter
• 220g plain white flour (I prefer to use spelt flour)
• 4 level tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp of cinnamon
• zest of 1 orange
• zest of 1 lemon
• 50g ground almonds
Put all the dried fruit and peel into a large bowl, mix in the brandy then cover and leave overnight for all the brandy to be absorbed. If you can afford to leave it a couple of nights then so much the better.
Preheat the oven to 140C and grease and line your cake tin with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then add the eggs one by one.
Add all the dry ingredients, sifted, plus the ground almonds to the bowl and mix briefly until all the flour, spice and almonds have been incorporated.
Finally add the soaked fruit along with the lemon and orange zest and give it a stir - remembering to make your wish at this stage!
Spoon the cake mixture into your tin and level with the back of a spoon. Next cut a disc (if you are making a round cake) or a square piece of greaseproof paper the same size as your cake tin and place this over the top of the mixture to form a lid - this will stop the cake browning too much as it cooks.
Bake for two hours but check it after the first hour and remove the lid of paper for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Allow to cool in the tin before taking a skewer and making little holes over the surface of the cake allowing you to pour more brandy over the top of the cake - the holes will mean the brandy is able to sink into the middle of the cake.
Once cool, wrap in two layers of greaseproof paper and one layer of tin foil and continue to feed the cake every week or so before you cover it in marzipan and decorate, which can be done a week or so before Christmas - or, if you are like me, about 10pm on Christmas Eve!
• To find out more about Liggy’s Cakes visit www.liggyscakes.co.uk/