I find it hard to stomach Nigella Lawson. But, she does make the most completely indulgent, guilt-laden delicious food. This fruit cake, taken from her Feast cookbook, is no exception. I’m usually against taking a good thing and tampering with it, and I’m the world’s biggest fan of the traditional Christmas cake, but here the chocolate takes a back seat and still lets the fruit do all the talking. Not only does it look fantastic when decorated with a dusting of icing sugar and a sprig of holly, but it keeps for ages making it the perfect present. I’ll be taking mine round to my granny and grampa’s tomorrow. Might need a forklift to deliver this one – it weighs a tonne!
- 350g prunes
- 250g raisins
- 125g currants
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 175g dark muscovado sugar
- 175ml honey
- 125ml Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa
- 3 free-range eggs, beaten
- 150g plain flour
- 75g ground almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 150C, Gas mark 2. Takes 3 hours to make – but so worth it. Easily makes 10 generous slices.
- Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm/8in, 9cm/3½in deep, round pop-off-able bottomed cake tin with a layer of butter and baking paper, making sure the paper is twice as high as the tin.
- In a large saucepan, add all of the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, liqueur, orange juice and zest, mixed spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan. Gently stir and boil the mixture before letting it simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes.
- When cooler, add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate soda and mix well until combined.
- Pour into the lined cake tin and bake for 1¾-2 hours. It should be firm but still gooey in the middle – test with a fork.
- Cool and remove from tin. You can decorate as you wish. I dusted mine with icing sugar and a sprig of holly. But blueberries, sheets of icing, gold sugar balls and chocolate also look good.