English Christmas Cake
Makes 9 mini Christmas Cakes or 1 x 9-inch round cake
· 200g dark brown sugar
· 175g butter (or vegan butter / canola / coconut oil)
· 700g mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries)
· 50g glacé cherries
· 2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
· zest and juice of 1 orange
· 100ml brandy (or whisky or cherry also work well)
· 170g ground almonds
· 3 large eggs
· 200g plain flour flour (or a gf flour mix)
· ½ tsp baking powder
· 1 tsp all spice
· 1 tsp cinnamon
· 1 tsp nutmeg
For the icing
· 400g pack ready-rolled marzipan
· Approx. 4 tbsp apricot jam or marmalade
· 500g pack white fondant icing
· icing sugar, for dusting
1. Tip the sugar, butter, dried fruit, whole cherries, ginger, orange zest and juice into a large pan.
2. Pour over the brandy and juice, then put on the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently to melt the butter.
3. Reduce the heat and bubble gently, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring every now and again to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool.
4. Once cooled, stir the nuts, eggs and ground almonds into the fruit, then sift in the flour, baking powder and spices. Stir everything together gently but thoroughly. Your batter is ready.
5. If cooking straight away, heat oven to 150 Celsius. Scoop the cake mix into 9 deep muffin cases (an ice-cream scoop works well), then level tops with a spoon dipped in hot water.
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden and just firm to touch and a toothpick when inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
7. Now to the icing: Unravel the marzipan onto a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Stamp out 9 rounds, 6cm across. Brush the cake tops with apricot jam, top with a marzipan round and press down lightly.
8. Make up the fondant icing to a spreading consistency, then swirl on top of each cake.
9. Decorate with sugared almonds and snowflakes, then leave to set. Will keep in a tin for 3 weeks.