It’s at its best two to four weeks after you bake it, so anytime soon after Thanksgiving is perfect.
NEW COLLEGE CHRISTMAS CAKE
8 oz flour, 8 oz. wholewheat flour, 2 lb golden raisins, 3 oz candied peel, 1/2 oz powdered nutmeg, mace, cinnamon (all mixed together), 15 powdered cloves, 9 oz brown sugar, 2 eggs plus 3 yolks, 3 fl. oz sherry, 11 fl. oz beer, 2 tsp dried yeast, 15 oz heavy cream, 1/2 lb unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Set the butter to melt. Dissolve the yeast in the beer to make a reasonable facsimile of ale-barm. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the sherry, eggs, egg-yolks, beer and yeast. Stir in the cream and melted butter. Leave it all to stand in a warm place for an hour. The mixture should rise and it will still be very sloppy. That’s ok. Grease 2 cake tins, line the base with parchment paper and pour in the mixture. Wrap a thick layer of newspaper round the outside of the tins. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, then turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. Bake for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes. Test with a skewer or toothpick. When the the toothpick comes out pretty much dry, turn the oven off, and leave the cakes in the oven to cool with the oven door ajar.
Randolphus Ayres did not specify it, but this cake is outstanding with the traditional marzipan and “royal icing”.