I don’t like Christmas cake. I don’t like mince pies either. Or any of those heavy dried fruit baked goods. Well, I’ve not tried them all, so there might be some exceptions, but as a rule I’m not fond of a heavy fruit cake, or any of its close relations.
But a couple of years ago I discovered a distant cousin and fell in love. It’s more like a stollen, but without the marzipan. Or the yeast. Anyway, it’s a light fruit cake, made with apricots, cherries, figs and lots of nuts. And it keeps for long enough that you can make it in advance of Christmas and it’s still tasty at Hogmanay.
I’d be making it today, but my man has decided to do a deep clean in the kitchen. And really, I don’t think it’s worth putting our relationship through the strain there would be if I attempted to make Christmas cake while he deep cleaned around me. It’s going to be tricky enough tonight, to cook supper like a wee secret mouse, except not leaving a trail of pee and poo behind me like a mouse would. You did know that mice are incontinent didn’t you? They just pee wherever they go. But I digress.
I expect you’re wanting to know the recipe for the cake I will be making some day soon in the super clean kitchen? Here you go.
Originally published in BBC Good Food Magazine December 2008, an Angela Nilsen recipe.
Lovely Christmas Cake
- 140g / 5oz soft dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 100ml / 3 1/2 fl oz apricot or regular brandy
- 140g / 5oz soft dried figs, roughly chopped
- 250g / 9oz raisins (I’ll use sultanas)
- 85g / 3oz glace cherries, quartered
- 50g / 2oz each of almonds, cashews and brazil nuts – roughly chopped
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 200g / 8oz plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 50g / 2oz ground almonds
- 200g / 8oz butter, softened
- 200g /8oz light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
Pre-heat oven to 160C / 140F / GM3
- Soak the apricots in the brandy, while you prepare other bits and pieces
- Butter and line a deep 20cm round cake tin
- Mix together the figs, raisins, cherries, nuts and lemon zest
- Combine the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and ground almonds in another bowl
- Beat the butter and sugar until creamy in a large bowl (everything else will be added to this one) – prob about 2 mins or so with electric beaters
- Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture one at a time and beat well after each addition
- Gently fold half the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then fold the other half, followed by the fruits and nuts, followed by the apricots and brandy.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin, smooth the top and make a small dip in the centre.
- Bake for 30 mins, then lower the temperature to 150C / GM2 and bake for another 1hour 45 mins. If it starts to brown too quickly, lay a piece of foil over the top for the last 30 mins – you don’t want it to burn on top.
- The cake is done when a skewer stuck all the way in, in the middle of the cake, comes out clean.
- Leave the cake in the tin to cool then remove the lining paper and rap well in cling film and foil till ready to decorate. You could probably skewer it and add more brandy, but I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary and just means that some parents won’t let their kids eat it.
There you have it. Christmas cake. All ready for decorating. Or not if you’re my Dad, which I very much suspect you are not.
If you want to see other recipes you’ll find them all listed here.