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English Twelfth Cake

This twelfth cake (also known as Three Kings' Cake or King's Cake) is very different from the French twelfth cake. Instead of a yeasty-bread type cake, this cake is much denser, and contains rum-soaked fruit, currants and raisins. It is a much shorter recipe, although it does cook slowly at a low temperature. This recipe also calls for a dry bean and a dry pea - whoever finds the pea and the bean in their pieces are the king and queen of the evening's revelries. As the recipe says - the bean determines the king and the pea determines the queen.

Cake ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit pieces (I used a fruit-cake mix)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 dried pea
  • 1 dried bean
Pan: 9-inch round cake pan or loaf pan (I used a 9-inch spring-form pan because that is what I had handy).

Instruction for the cake:

1.    Combine the rum withe raisins, currants and candied fruit pieces and allow to soak for 1 hour.

2.    While waiting for the fruit to soak, butter your cake pan.
3.    Drain and reserve both fruit and rum.
4.    Begin preheating the oven to 275 degrees while you get the batter together.
5.    Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. I used my stand-mixer for this step.

6.    Beat in the milk, reserved rum and almond extract.
7.    Dredge fruits lightly with flour and shake off extra flour.

8.    Sift flour and spices into batter and beat into batter.
9.    Add fruits, nuts, lemon zest, the pea and the bean and fold until well incorporated.

10.     Turn batter into buttered cake pan.

9.    Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for about 2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

10.  Turn on to rack and cool completely before icing the cake.

Golden Almond Icing Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 or 2 drops almond extract

Instructions for the icing:

1.    Combine all ingredients and beat vigorously until mixture is a creamy yellow color.
2.    Pour over cooled cake and spread with a knife. The icing will be a bit runny at first, but it will firm up eventually (several hours or overnight).

I put my cake in a foil tray - I folded up the sides to make a bit of a lip so the icing would not run all over the place. I also used some of the overflow icing to ice the sides of the cake.

Here is what it looked like once dry:

And here is a cross-section - you can see the candied fruits, currants and raisins:

Recipe adapted from Visions of Sugarplums by Mimi Sheraton.

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