I'm the only one in our house who loves a bit of Christmas cake, but I refuse to miss out on this spiced annual treat. So every year, I make myself a modest cake, safe in the knowledge that it will be far superior than any shop bought affair. Besides, nothing can replace that mellow, spiced fug coming from the oven as the cake slowly bakes...
This recipe will make one 18cm round cake which, if you must, is plenty big enough to share...
- 500g pack luxury dried fruits (Aldi luxury fruits are lovely and such good value)
- grated zest of an orange and a lemon
- 100ml brandy
- 100ml strong breakfast tea (black)
- 75g chopped nuts - whatever you prefer
- 150g soft unsalted butter
- 90g soft dark brown or molasses sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 150g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 1 tsp spice of your choice (I like a mixture of cinnamon and ginger, but you could add ground cloves or use mixed spice)
1. Grease a deep 18cm cake tin and double line with baking parchment, making sure the parchment comes up 10cm higher than the tin. You can also wrap brown paper around the tin if you are worried the cake may brown too quickly.
2. Place the dried fruit and zests in a small saucepan with the tea and bring to the boil. Simmer until the tea evaporates, then turn off the heat and add the brandy. Cover and leave to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 150ºC (gas mark 2).
4. Cream the butter and sugar and gradually beat in the eggs, treacle and almond extract.
5. Sift the flour and spices together and mix with the ground almonds and nuts.
6. Gently fold a spoonful of dried fruit into the creamed mixture, followed by a spoonful of the flour mix and repeat until all of the ingredients are combined.
7. Pour into the cake tin and level the top of the cake.
8. Bake for 2 hours (test with a skewer and bake a little longer if needed).
9. Allow to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in the baking parchment and foil.
10. Store in a cool dark place, and feed weekly with a tbsp brandy.