It's time to make your Christmas cake. For the next few weeks feed it once a week with your favourite alcohol to help preserve it and make it lovely a boozy for the Festive celebrations. Instead of a very sweet topping of marzipan and fondant icing, why not try finishing your cake with a selection of nuts in an apricot glaze. It looks good, is easier to do, plus it is a little kinder to your teeth and your body!
500g mixed dried fruit
80g mixed peel
80g chopped mixed nuts
1 lemon (zest & juice)
1 orange (zest & juice)
8 tbsp brandy/whisky/sherry/rum/
300g plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
80g ground almonds
200g soft dark brown sugar
200g soft butter
1 tbls molasses
4 egg, beaten
4 tbsp apricot jam
A selection of your favourite nuts
1. Put the mixed dried fruit into a bowl. Add the mixed peel and chopped mixed nuts.
2. Cut the cherries into pieces and add to the bowl with the lemon rind.
3. Pour over the lemon & orange juice + alcohol. Cover and leave to marinate - overnight or longer is good.
4. Pre heat the oven to 140C.
5. Grease and line a 23 cm/9inch round tin with greased baking paper cut to size.
6. Weigh the butter and sugar and place in a medium sized bowl. Cream together with wooden spoon or electric mixer until light in texture and pale in colour.
7. Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Pour in the molasses.
8. Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl, and using a large metal spoon fold into the mixture. Then fold in the ground almonds and finally incorporate the fruit mixture.
9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Make a slight dip in the centre of the cake to prevent the cake from ‘peaking’ in the middle during cooking.
10. Bake in the oven for about 2 hours (or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.)
11. Remove and cool in the tin, on a wire rack until completely cold.
12. Wrap the cake in foil and leave for a few weeks to mature, ‘feeding’ occasionally with alcohol.
13. A couple of days before you are going to serve the cake, make an apricot glaze by adding two tablespoons water to 4 tablespoons apricot jam and heating gently in a saucepan or microwave.
14. Leave to cool slightly then, with a pastry brush, paint the top of the cake generously with some of the apricot glaze. This is your edible ‘glue’. Arrange your chosen nuts in a pleasing pattern on top, pressing gently into the glaze.
15. When completed, brush the nut topping with some more apricot glaze, to give a glossy finish and to help keep the nuts in place. Finish with a wide Festive piece of ribbon tied around the cake.