But Christmas is almost upon us and so it's time I bake a Christmas cake.
I don't go in for the baking of the cake in October and feeding it until it's gluttonously rich with alcohol and popping currants. Instead I bake it whenever I feel like eating Christmas cake ever since coming across this recipe from the (I'm ignoring the allegations) fabulous Nigella. Whatever may be being said about this woman, you can't take away that the fact that she can cook and a lot of my baking repertoire is Nigella simply because her recipes work! #nigellafanclub
On to the recipe. It's for a chocolate fruit cake. Ignore the word chocolate really as it literally contains 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, which in a recipe which contains 725g of dried fruit, is negligible. But it's there. So there!
Of course I have a slight twist on it as usual, so here's my version.
350g prunes (chopped with scissors)
175g mixed dried fruit (tesco do a bag)
200g morello cherries (stoned and chopped)
175g butter (or margarine)
175g dark muscovado sugar
1tbsp coffee powder*
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 eggs (beaten)
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
*The original recipe calls for 125ml Tia Maria. I had none, nor any brandy or rum so just added water and coffee granules.
Add the fruits, butter, sugar, orange juice and zest, spice and cocoa powder to a large pan and bring to the boil. Stir and simmer for ten minutes then leave to cool for half an hour.
Prepare the tin and set the oven to 150c.
For the tin, I can't remember what I used in the past, but the recipe says to line a 20cm/8" tin that's 9cm deep. After lining my tin I realised mine wasn't 9cm deep so I added the remaining batter to two medium sized silicone cupcake cases (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/16300/Giant-Silicone-Cupcake-Case)
Line the sides and bottom of a round loose bottomed tin with greaseproof paper making sure the paper comes above the top of the tin.
Add the eggs and other dry ingredients to the pan and mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 3/4 - 2 hours until the top of the cake is firm and looks shiny and sticky. Leave to cool in the tin on a rack.
I left mine overnight before covering. As it's not a traditional Christmas cake recipe, you don't have to cover it in icing. You can eat it as it is or like Nigella does, add some edible gold stars and glitter.
But I LOVE icing and marzipan so I cover mine. I couldn't settle on a decoration this year so as I love gingerbread men I decided to do an iced flooded gingerbread man. I initially made little ones to go round the side of my cake, bit when I botched up the cake tin sizing, I used two of them to go on the smaller cakes. I also decided not to cover the whole cake and just give them a marzipan and icing top
Merry Christmas everyone xx