Monday, 16 November 2015

Easy and Nut Free Light Christmas Cake

Baking cakes, baking cakes, I love baking cakes,
Oh what fun it is to bake a lovely Christmas cake, ohhhh,
Baking cakes, baking cakes, I love baking cakes,
Oh what fun it is to bake a lovely Christmas cake!

Prep time: 25 Mins (Plus soaking time)
Baking tine: 2 Hours 20 Mins
Maturing time: Many many weeks...
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
185g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Orange Extract
1tsp Lemon Extract
1tsp Vanilla Extracts
2tsp Mixed Spice
225g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsbp of Golden Syrup
500g Luxury Mixed Fruit (Soaked in Rum, Sherry or Brandy)
150g Pitted Medjool Dates
Rum, Sherry or Brandy

Making a Christmas cake can seem quite daunting, but honestly this one is so very easy and perfect for anyone with a nut allergy (who can be quite tricky to cater for with shop bought Christmas cakes). You can buy really good mixed dried fruits pre-soaked these days so feel free to use some if time is short, otherwise just soak your fruit overnight in a couple of tablespoons of alcohol, stirring occasionally.

Onto the cake! Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2, grease a 20cm deep springform tin and double line with baking paper. Also double line the outside and secure with string. It's worth doing this so you end up with the lovely soft, even texture as opposed to a thicker cakey crust of a more traditional fruit cake. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time, along with the extracts and spice. If you don't want to use orange and lemon extract you can use zest, although I find the extracts give a much more rounded flavour as the cake matures.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, then drizzle in the golden syrup. Mix to a smooth, consistent batter, then fold through the fruit until evenly combined. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges and bake in the centre of the oven for around 2 hours and 30 minutes, until the cake has risen and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, poke the surface all over with a skewer, then drizzle over 2tbsp of alcohol. Personally I prefer brandy, but rum or sherry also work very well indeed!

Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then remove and double wrap in clingfilm. Leave tucked away in a relatively cool place, then every fortnight unwrap, drizzle over another 2tbsp of booze and cover once more. Some advise to add alcohol more often, but personally I think every fortnight leaves the finished article potent enough!

Once the cake has matured and Christmas has nearly arrived you can think about icing (although you don't have to if you don't want to). To do this just brush over with a little warmed apricot jam and lay on some marzipan, royal icing or a combination of the two. Ho ho ho!

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