Go on then – in for a penny and all that. I may as well share this rather luxurious recipe I’ve adapted from a non- GF one. It’s just too good to keep to myself! This is my third year of making it and I’ve almost got it just right. I think.
My husband isn’t all that ‘into’ Christmas cake. But he LOVES this. It’s a perfect cake for birthdays, Christmas and other Holiday celebrations, Christenings, weddings, anniversaries – or just because you feel like it.
500g dried figs, cut in quarters or even a bit smaller (I quite like the big bits)
200g prunes, cut in quarters
200g raisins (I used mixed fruit this time round for more Christmassyness!)
300g soft brown sugar
1Tbsp black treacle
5 large free range eggs
Grated zest of two tasty oranges (choose thick-skinned ones if you can), and the juice
Brandy or similar for soaking fruit plus a couple more tablespoonsful (for an alcohol-free version just add some extra juice. Perhaps use Cranberry or something tangy and flavourful like that.)
200g almond meal / ground almonds
150g gluten-free plain flour
(if nut allergic, substitute almond meal for ordinary flour, making the recipe 350g gluten-free plain flour in total)
2tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 to 1 tsp Xantham Gum (optional – helps bind and prevent crumbliness)
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
600g (or thereabouts) dark chocolate smashed into little bits
Grate the rind off the oranges then squeeze out the juice. Cut up the dried fruit. Stir dried fruit in with orange rind, juice and brandy (I’ve used Kirsch this year instead…). Cover and leave in the ‘fridge for 24 hours or more (I left mine for three days and it was fine – just stir occasionally and add a little more liquid if it looks dry).
When you’re ready to make, preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F, Gas 3). If you want a single large cake, choose a tin around 28cm diameter. For two cakes, this mixture makes a 22cm round and a small loaf. (I like this as you get a pre-Xmas cake, and an Xmas cake – or one for a friend / school do etc) Grease and line the tins.
Traditional Method (food processor method follows)
1/ Cream the butter, sugar and treacle. Whisk the eggs and brandy or rum together and stir into the creamed mixture. An electric hand mixer can be helpful for creaming, and for adding the egg mix to avoid curdling.
2/ Sieve the dry ingredients and stir in (you can lightly mix with an electric hand mixer).
4/ I love this bit! Smash the crap out of your chocolate. Seriously. The best way! To do this, I take the whole packet of chocolate, put it on a mat or cloth on the floor and systematically hit it with a rolling pin. Since you need a good few packs of chocolate you should be feeling totally cleansed by the end of the smashing process. If there are still some larger chunks when you open it up, carefully cut with a good, large kitchen knife.
NB: If the batter looks too thick, whizz in a splash of milk so that it’s ‘drop off the spoon’ consistency. It should hang onto a spoon but drop when you give it a bit of a shake.
5/ Pour into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 90 minutes, then turn it down to 150C and cook for at least another 60-90 minutes. Test by plunging a skewer into the middle in the usual fashion. Keep an eye on it – it may be done sooner. Cover the top with a piece of baking paper or foil if it looks to be getting too dark.
6/ Let it cool completely in the tin, then turn out and wrap in greaseproof paper and store somewhere cool and dark until the big day. You can feed it with more booze if you like.
1/ Put the butter, sugar and treacle into the bowl. Process for a few seconds until it start to mix well, stop and scrape down the sides, reapeat. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time (you may want to stop to scrape down between eggs) then pour in a couple of tablespoons of brandy if you’re using it.
2/ Weigh out the dry ingredients, add and whizz. I don’t bother with sieving – with a food processor it just seems like overkill!
3/ Next step is to add the fruit BUT DON’T DO THIS PART IN YOUR FOOD PROCESSOR. Unless you use a blunt blade, such as a plastic one. You don’t want to chop all the fruit up with a double-bladed knife. I put the drained fruit into a large mixing bowl then tip the cake mixture on top. (Save the extra liquid from the fruit for a little cook’s tipple when the cake is done!)
4/ As above, and continue!
I’m not a fan of fondant style icings, but I do LOVE marzipan. Having lived in New Zealand for ten years until last year, I’ve been making my own, because it was almost impossible to buy. (There’s a penchant for cheap there, and you can get “almond flavour cake covering” which is just fondant icing with almond flavouring – pointless!) It’s incredibly easy and delicious, and in fact now that I’m back in the UK where I CAN buy marzipan, I don’t like the shop stuff. Too sweet, too smooth.
So I often just cover my cakes with white marzipan, cut some shapes, brush a little egg white over the top and singe delicately with a kitchen blow torch. Which is a great excuse for having fun with flames 🙂 I’ll try to dig out some pics of previous years’ cakes and pop them here.
Otherwise I do have a completely amazing recipe for a killer, foolproof chocolate icing that’s to die for, which I’ll post soon, but maybe not in time for Christmas 2013!
Use your imagination, or just a sprinkle of icing sugar.