I don’t make Christmas cakes as a rule but this year I thought I would give it a go. I talked to my good friend, ace-baker Alexa Johnston, who gave me an old Alison Holst recipe book to look at, saying there were several good Christmas-style cakes in it. I got to work and made my version of the sort of fruit cake I like which is paler than those very dark, more traditional sorts.
I love cakes with nuts so I based the following, with a respectful nod to Ms Holst, on one of her recipes. (I added lots of almonds, among other things.) As I am cooking for a large family Christmas lunch, I am serving traditional food (hence the cake) that has a wide appeal and fulfils everyone’s expectation of Christmas food.
|1 cup||Golden raisins (Main)|
|1 cup||Raisins, large, multi-coloured (Main)|
|500 g||Dried fruit, except dates; slice apricots thinly and dice any crystallised fruit 2cm if using (Main)|
|1 cup||White wine|
|250 g||Butter, soft but not melted|
|1 cup||Caster sugar|
|1 cup||Ground almonds|
|1||Lemon, zest only|
|1 tsp||Vanilla extract|
|1 ½ cups||High grade flour|
|1 ½ tsp||Baking powder|
|250 g||Almonds, whole, plus extra for decoration (Main)|
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- Line the bottom and side of a 23cm diameter springform cake tin with baking paper or brown paper.
- Put all the dried fruit and wine into a wide pan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Mix well and remove from the heat. Most of the liquid will have evaporated. Add the brandy, pour into a bowl and mix well. Reserve overnight.
- Heat the oven to 140C fan bake. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, adding 2 tablespoons of the ground almonds after each egg, beating well after each addition. Add any remaining ground almonds, the zest, vanilla, flour and baking powder. Mix well. Add the soaked dried fruit and whole almonds and mix well.
- Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the top. Decorate with extra almonds.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 140C, then lower the heat to 120C and bake 1½ to 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cover the top of the cake with baking paper if it becomes too brown.
- Don't eat the cake for at least a week and sprinkle a little more brandy over the cake 3 or 4 times over the week. Ice if desired: I prefer mine uniced.