I have to say I’m cheating a little here with my own rules as I haven’t ever cooked this on my own. In fact my participation has only ever advanced to weighing ingredients and helping fill cake tins. Christmas is my mum’s domain. She’s been doing it for years and she’s on a roll, my interference is not needed! However, I had to share this cake recipe with you as it really is a last minute cake. It doesn’t need to mature and if you’re forgotten to buy a cake and you’re totally desperate, well, start now!
Makes 1×8″ (20cm) cake
500g mixed dried fruits
125g dates, stoned and chopped (or apricots or prunes, big fruits are what you’re after.)
175g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
90g glace cherries, chopped
60g chopped mixed nuts
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
– In a large pan melt the butter and then add the dried mixed fruits, dates (or other fruits), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, water, mixed spice and cinnamon.
– Bring this to the boil and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
– Leave the pan, covered, overnight.
– The next day put it in a mixing bowl, or use a machine like a kitchen aid or kenwood chef to do the hard work!
– Add the cherries, nuts and brandy. Mix a little.
– Add the flour and salt and mix in.
– Add the eggs and the baking powder and then mix thoroughly making sire everything is well combined.
– Line an 8″ cake tin with foil, shiny side down, and 2 layers of greaseproof paper.
– Brush lightly with oil.
– Tip in the cake mix and level out the top. Create a small dip in the middle with the back of a spoon to prevent doming.
– Place a small ovenproof dish or tin of water in the bottom of an oven heated to gas mark 2.
– Place the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours covering the top with foil after 1 hour.
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done.
– Cool in the tin then turn out and pour on a little more brandy before either wrapping and storing or covering with marzipan and icing.
I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted. It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents. It also looks so very Christmassy!
I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4! Yum, one spare! It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness. The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch. A surefire winner this one. My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!
Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’
460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts
– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins.
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk.
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine. (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through.
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown.
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely.
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.
These simply could not be easier. I’ve been doing a lot with melted chocolate lately and after doing whatever I needed to with it I always had leftover chocolate. I always like these when I get them in Belgium so I thought why not make them myself? That way you can dictate what goes on the top too. The ‘recipe’, such as it is, goes as far as however much chocolate you have.
Makes however many you want.
melted chocolate (white, milk, dark, whatever you like)
dried fruit (I’ve used cranberries, raisins, sultanas and glace cherries.)
nuts (I like blanched almonds but walnuts, pecans or any other nut works well too.)
– Cover a chopping board or baking tray with baking paper.
– Pour a spoonful of melted chocolate onto the paper and swirl round a little with the back of the spoon to make a flat disc.
– Place your chosen fruit and nuts on the top.
– Leave to set. Done!