Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake
Recipe type: Festival Special
An easy-to-make alternative to traditional Christmas cakes which requires no beating
- 175g butter, chopped
- 200g dark muscovado sugar
- 750g luxury mixed dried fruits (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries)
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 100ml/3½ fl oz cherry brandy or brandy plus 4tbsp more
- 85g macadamia nuts
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 85g ground almonds
- 200g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml/3½fl oz brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line the cake tin. Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them until evenly browned, or in the oven for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them as they burn easily. When they are cool, chop roughly. Stir the eggs, nuts and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly - you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (about a further 1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
- Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it's cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.