Last Minute Christmas Cake!

I tend to leave Christmas to the last minute. Whilst I enjoy the festivities as much as the next person, I find the the 2 month long build-up a bit tiresome, so usually blinker myself to all things Christmas until around mid-December. Whilst this isn’t a problem for most things, if making a traditional Christmas cake which needs feeding alcohol for a number of weeks before eating, it can leave you a little pushed for time. Which is why, for the second year running I’ve made this last minute Christmas cake (adapted from a fruit loaf recipe from Henrietta Inman, made in a round cake tin). No booze, but still wonderfully spiced and ready to eat straight way! So if you haven’t got round to making a cake yet, it’s not too late. Get Baking!

The Cake

  • 60g each of currents, sultanas and raisins
  • 90g each of dried figs (stalks removed),
  • 90g dried apricots (unsulphured if available)
  • 90g dates
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla pod (cut in half length ways and seeds scraped out)
  • 60g (3 tbspn) maple syrup)
  • 300ml chai tea (I use Pukka’s vanilla chai teabags)
  • 125g whole almonds (or other nuts)
  • 135g buckwheat flour
  • 135g chestnut flour (rice flour or extra buckwheat/gram flour can be substituted)
  • 20g gram flour
  • 5tsp arrowroot
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75g coconut oil

The Glaze

  • 3 plums (destoned)
  • 5 tbsp apple juice
  • 20g honey (or dessert spoon of sugar if wanting a vegan cake)

Or alternatively:

  • 30g fruit jam

METHOD

Put the currents, sultanas, raisins, figs, apricots and dates in a large bowel with the citrus zest and juices, vanilla seeds and pod, maple syrup and tea. Leave the teabags in the bowl to intensify the flavour. Leave to soak (overnight is ideal but even a few hours will do).

When ready to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 (170 degrees C). Line a 20 inch round cake tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowel, combine all the dry ingredients (from the buckwheat flour to the salt). Set aside 50g of almonds for decoration. Blitz the rest in a food processor or roughly chop, keeping some larger pieces for texture. Add to the dry ingredients.

Place the soaked figs, dates and apricots in the food processor and blend until half pulp, half still whole. Add to the dry ingredients. Remove the teabags and vanilla pod, and add the rest of the soaked fruit and liquid to the mixture. Melt the coconut oil and stir in. Mix until everything is well combined.

Pour into the cake time and spread with a knife until even. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn down the heat to gas mark 2 and 1/2 (160 degrees C). Bake for a further 40 minutes (turning the cake tin once or twice). Once cooked a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To make the glaze, bring the plums, apple juice and honey to the boil for 5 minutes. Break the plums up with a spoon. Turn down and simmer for 5 minutes more, until thick and glossy. Turn out the cake and with a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the top of the cake. Alternatively, heat the jam in a pan, and do the same. Decorate with the remaining almonds.

The cake will keep for around 5 days, but also freezes well.

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