Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Best Christmas Cake

Each year around this time in the calendar we have approached that most sacred of tasks of making the Christmas cake. And each year I post about it.

I'm a sucker for a good fruit cake. Whether with tea, coffee or something a bit stronger, it almost seems like the healthy option of the cake world and I fool myself that I can have huge slabs of it without any poundage being added to the waistline. The Christmas cake however can sometimes be a step too far for the cake lover, often being accused of being too rich, too heavy or too boozy.

Some years back I tweaked around with a recipe to come up with something that would suit the whole family: rich, but rich with succulent fruit; heavy, but heavy with mysterious spice, orange and cocoa; boozy, but boozy enough to just give you a hint of sharp brandy or whisky.

We all stir it, we all prod it, we all lick the spoon. And this year we went all traditional and threw in 3 silver coins. If my slice puts that pound back in my pocket I would still swap it for another slice. Thank the heavens that Christmas is almost here...

The Best Christmas Cake

200g dark muscovado sugar
100g honey
250g butter
100g each of raisins, currants, sultanas, dried figs and dried prunes, roughly chopped
1 espresso cup of coffee
A large splash of brandy or whisky
Tablespoon of mixed spice
Zest and juice of an orange or 2 satsuma, tangerines or clementine
1 tbsp of cocoa powder
3 large eggs
100g plain flour, sifted
150g ground almonds
Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

1 - Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C, GM3. Grease and line a 22cm spring form cake tin.
2 - Melt the butter and sugars in a large pan then add the fruit, coffee, brandy or whisky, spice and honey. Zest and juice the oranges and add along with the cocoa powder. Stir until dark, caramelised and fragrant.
3 - Beat the eggs and add to the mixture along with the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Fold in thoroughly until not a trace of flour is left.
4 - Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 2 hours. If the top looks like it is catching, cover with baking paper.


Bellini Valli said...

This could be perhaps THE best fruitcake David. Everyone seems to love it:D

cackster said...

I don't usually care too much for Xmas cake, but I bet this one is a good one. As you showed me how to make your 'award winning' spiced pumpkin pudding, that's my Xmas dessert sorted!

Jacqueline said...

Sounds good David! I too love a rich fruit cake. I am always astounded when I hear people slating them on American blogs. I think they just haven't had a slice of a delicious homemade one.

Chef Jeena said...

Coffee in your xmas cake how delicious! I am a massive fan of all fruit cakes this one would not last long thats for sure, it sounds fabulous.

Darlene said...

@ Jacqueline:

The reason you hear Americans going "ewww" on the fruit cake is simple. It's an "across the pond, failure to communicate" thing. There's what ya'll call fruit cake and what WE call fruit cake.

Your "fruit cakes" have raisins, and other DRIED fruit in them.

OURS has some nasty "candied" fruit bits - who KNOWS what they actually are. I would assume that years ago, when people made their OWN dried or candied fruits, they tasted good. However, now adays, even "homemade" fruit cakes have commercially purchased "candied fruit" that goes into it. That stuff is NASTY. It's a harder-gummy substance, It's SUPPOSED to be bits of pineapple, citron or cherries - usually dyed in "Christmas colors". At least, that's what the labels on these plastic tubs of awfulness call them.

We like the "cake" part, the nut part and most of us the raisin part of the cake. It's that blasted "fruit" that kills our wanting to eat it and makes us shudder!

So to US, ewwwwww! YUCK! (Can you blame us?) Would you want this stuff foisted on you by either a)our elders - whom eat it for nostalgic reasons or b) people with NO tastebuds?

YOUR fruit cake sounds GOOD!