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 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.