Saturday, 13 December 2014

Vicar's Kitchen - The Ultimate Christmas Cake

There seems to be something in my personality that isn't satisfied to just make a nice version of something but rather I frequently embark on quests to make the 'Ultimate'. This can result in quite long winded and length journeys of experimentation. First it was fluffy béchamel for moussaka (result: outside Greece you can't get the right cheese, two eggs mixed in is the best 'fluff' level this side of Europe), the perfect courgette fritter (result: you need halloumi) and now the ultimate Christmas fruit cake.

If you are a purist this might not be the cake for you but I love it and I put that down to a few things: prunes, cocoa, orange and a big slug of booze. The prunes, along with some dark muscovado sugar and honey, make the cake really dark and moist. The little bit of cocoa and the oranges laced with brandy, or any other liqueur really, make the cake taste like a big boozy chocolate orange in fruit cake form. How good does that sound?!

The recipe is based on one from Nigella's Christmas book but adjusted slightly because she goes for a coffee flavour by used coffee liqueur and has a slightly different fruit and spice mix.  
The Ultimate Christmas Fruit Cake
250g ready to eat prunes, chopped
350g mixed fruit (if there is some orange in there then bonus!)
175g butter cut into cubes
175g dark muscovado sugar
200g honey
60ml brandy (or other liqueur of choice, I've used cherry brandy and orange brandy before)
1/2 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (so 1 and a half tsps. in total)
Juice and zest of two oranges
3 eggs, beaten.
150g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Two layers works well.
- Melt together the butter, fruit, sugar, honey, orange juice and zest, spices and brandy in a big saucepan.
- Heat to boiling and simmer for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the mix to cool. I leave it for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to about 150 degrees C or Gas Mark 2.
- Mix into the fruit mix the eggs, flour, almonds, baking power and bicarb.
- Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour and three quarters to two hours. The cake should still be a bit gooey in the middle.
- Leave to cool in the tin and deal with your kitchen which probably now looks like this...
- Eat and enjoy!
The cake also keeps for a good while so it is the perfect thing to have about the house should anyone pop by or if you just want to eat fruit cake every day because, well, you can!

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