This is very different from a traditional, dark, rich fruit Christmas cake. It’s almost like a Madeira that’s stuffed with berries and fruits which maintain their individual shapes and tastes, rather than merging into a dense, sticky, spicy texture. It’ll keep perfectly well for 6-8 weeks, but it’s not the kind of cake to keep for months – or to feed with alcohol.
Since this is a special cake and it’s only once a year that we have Christmas, I prefer to use whole dried apricots and almonds and to chop them myself – the ready chopped ones are a bit small and don’t seem to have quite the same taste.
This amount will make 1 x 22cm square cake (or 1 x 22cm plus 1 x 10cm round cakes). If you don’t have a small tin, bake the leftover mix in cupcake cases to make afternoon tea buns.
Love, Jane x
- 100ml cranberry juice
- Zest and juice of 1 large orange and 2 small lemons
- 200g dried cranberries
- 300g flame raisins
- 360g dried cherries
- 360g dried blueberries
- 250g dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 150g blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 200g spreadable butter
- 150g soft margarine
- 300g light brown soft sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 400g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Place all the fruit in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cranberry, orange and lemon juices and zests until barely simmering, then pour it over the fruit. Leave it to soak, turning it every now and then, until all the liquid is absorbed – this will take 3-4 hours, or overnight.
- Grease and double line with baking parchment a deep 22cm round or square cake tin (if using a round one, also prepare a deep 10cm round tin). Preheat the oven to 160°C (145°C fan-assisted, gas mark 3).
- Mix together the butter, margarine and sugar, in an electric mixer or by hand, and beat until really light and fluffy. Break the eggs into a jug and lightly beat together with a fork.
- Add the egg to the fat and sugar mix little by little, beating well between each addition and dropping in a large pinch of flour each time to stop the mixture separating.
- Continue until all the egg is added.
- Mix together the remaining flour and baking powder, then fold into the cake mixture, either by pulsing in the machine or by hand.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the soaked fruit and the chopped almonds into the mix: this is the time for you and any nearby family and friends to make a wish as they stir. Keep going until the mix is completely combined, then turn into the prepared tin(s). Smooth and flatten the tops.
- Bake for an hour. Turn the oven temperature down to 150°C (135°C fan-assisted, gas mark 2) and turn the tin round in the oven to help it to cook evenly. Bake for another hour or so then test the cake by inserting a knife in the centre – when it comes out clean the cake is done. (The little 10cm round one will take around 1hr 15mins).
- Cook for a longer time as necessary, testing every 15 minutes or so.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then turn out carefully. It can be eaten straightaway with or without icing, but will be very crumbly for a day or so. To store for Christmas, wrap in baking parchment and then foil, and keep in a tin or cake carrier.
- A few days before Christmas, decorate as desired, with marzipan and/or fondant or royal icing. I’ve decorated the cake with my white roll-out icing and Christmas sprinkles, but next month I’ll give you some more ideas.