In the second in our series of Christmas Countdown articles, things are getting busy in the Croxfords Kitchen but there is still time to make your perfect Christrmas cake, as Suzan Croxford explains…
Twenty six days until Christmas 2016 is here, seemingly arriving in record time this year, our twelve day festival is almost upon us again. Croxfords have been busy putting the last finishing touches to our Christmas cake orders, bottling piccalilli, pickled onions and a vast array of chutneys. We don’t as yet sell these retail but are giving it serious consideration for next year. Most pickles take some time to mature so sadly if they are not made by now they will not be part of a homemade Christmas spread. Further, I have been sworn to secrecy for our Jezma’s Sweet Pickled Onion recipe and our piccalilli recipe so perhaps it’s just as well it is too late to share!
However, I do want to share one recipe which has never failed to impress and even those who do not usually like fruit cake are seduced by this dark beauty. It can even be made the day you want to eat it, so no faffing about feeding the fruit for months. It also needs no further decorative adornment, although we tend to bling it up with fruit and nuts here in the kitchen. So all in all, a winner all round.
Chocolate Fruit Cake (serves about 10)
Line the sides and base of a loose-bottomed, round 20cm, 9cm deep cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 150 dg c./gas mark 2.
350g prunes Juice and zest of 2-3 oranges (400ml juice)
250g raisins 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
125g currants 4 tablespoons of cocoa (not drinking chocolate!)
60g candied peel 3 eggs, beaten
175g unsalted butter 150g plain flour
175g dark muscovado sugar 75g ground almonds
175ml runny honey ½ tsp baking powder
125ml Frangelico Hazelnut liqueur ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Put the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, Frangelico, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes are up it will have cooled sufficiently to add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Pour the fruit cake mixture in the prepared cake tin. Bake in the oven for 1 ¾ – 2 hours. The cake should be firm to the touch and will look shiny and sticky. A cake tester, inserted in the middle of the cake should show a still fairly gooey centre. Allow to cool completely prior to removing from the tin.
If not eating immediately, wrap in greaseproof paper, a double layer of foil and store in an airtight tin.