I love a bit of Christmas Cake but does anyone actually eat it anymore? Most recipes nowadays seem to be for something light and fluffy. I'm not interested in a light and fluffy Christmas Cake, I want a dark, fruity, rich and gooey cake.
When I was heavily pregnant with my first son (I was due on December 28th), I decided it would be a great idea to make everyone a hamper for Christmas. So after making a lot of onion marmalade, fudge and chocolates, I thought it would be great to make individual Christmas Cakes for everyone. Whilst ignoring my swelling ankles and aching hips, I set about making nine Christmas Cakes. After icing them and making them look gorgeous, only four made it as presents. I ended up eating the rest. I don't know if it was the booze or it was the only thing keeping me regular! Maybe it was the energy I needed for the impending 82 hour labour. Merry Christmas!
You won't find any mixed peel in this recipe- purely because I don't like it. And you certainly won't find any glacé cherries either - never! You can omit the booze - but I'd always add more if I can. To speed up the cooking process, the fruit is lightly simmered with the all the wet ingredients. This makes the fruit all lovely and plump.
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
100g ground almonds
250g ready to eat prunes, chopped
100ml orange juice
200g light muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
HOW TO MAKE
Preheat oven to 140ºC.
Put all the wet ingredients into a big pan and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is looking lovely and plump. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.
While the wet mix is cooling, grease and double line a 20cm/8 inch round tin or 18cm/7 inch square tin with greaseproof baking parchment.
Next, sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir in the wet mix and eggs. Spoon into prepared tin and tap on work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Place a square of double greaseproof baking parchment on top of the cake mixture with a hole the size of a fifty pence piece. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and bake for a minimum of 2 hours. When the cake is ready, test with a skewer. Poke it into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean - the cake is done. Leave to cool completely before icing.
Music to listen to whilst making this: Frank Sinantra's Jingle Bells