- 480g mix of dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, anything you enjoy or use those half-empty packets in your cupboard…)
- 1 handful of prunes, apricots or dates
- 120g mix of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans…)
- 200ml of rhum or whisky
- butter 160g
- brown muscovado 160g
- 3 eggs
- plain wholemeal flour 160g
- 1 spoonful of raising powder
- almond powder 50g
- 1 tablespoonful of treacle
- 2 tablespoonful of mixed spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger)
- 2 tablespoonful of unsweetened cocoa
- 4 squares of dark chocolate
- Rum or whisky for soaking the fruit
One roll of marzipan paste
One icing roll (I prefer using pre-rolled out ones as they are so easy and quick and you can then concentrate on the decor itself instead of fiddling with icing slabs…)
Any food colouring, chocolate shavings or sweets to personalise the top.
Large ribbon to hide the sides – often useful to disguise any sins…
Now we’re ready to put our pinny on and start mixing:
Soak the fruit in the rhum or brandy the night before. On the day, put in a saucepan the butter in chunks and the brown sugar. Strain the soaked fruit in, reserving the juice of course! Warm the lot up on the stove. Heat and stir for about 10 mn, until the fruit is plumper and the juices are thicker. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate then the cocoa and spices. Don’t forget to melt in a big spoonful of treacle for the liquorice hints go wonderfully with the richness of the cacao.
The mix needs to be rich and silky and should smell like Christmas morning already!
Pre-heat the oven at 140 degrees Celsius.
Add the beaten eggs to the fruit mixture, then stir in the nuts and flours until it is all well combined. If the mix is too heavy, add a few drops of water or the remaining spirit.
Pour into a tin lined with grease-proof paper and bake for 2 hours.
Keep for a few weeks wrapped in cling film and feed it with more alcohol once or twice a week. You will then get the marzipan and the icing sugar to decorate it a week or so before eating it.
This cake will keep for one or two months. So if you start baking now, your cake will be at its best for eating when Christmas comes around. My significant other’s grandmother used to start soaking the fruit on boxing day for the following christmas cake and was religiously feeding it alcohol for the remaining 12 months… This jars a little bit with my idea of fresh homemade food but you can give it a try!
Two years ago, I took one heavy fruit and cocoa cake brimming with whisky to friends in the mountains and at “apres-ski” we had slices of it with hot cups of tea by the fireplace… The combination of alcohol, fruit, spices and chocolate was exactly what you wanted after a cold day on the slopes; and with the amount of calories, exactly what you needed to face the next day’s downhill challenge!