This is the first time ever that I tried my hands on a Christmas Cake/Fruit Cake/Plum Cake whatever you want to call it. I read a lot of recipes on several blogs all of which required soaking the dry fruits in rum for weeks and then feeding the cake till christmas. A lengthy procedure but that is how a delicious traditional christmas cake is made. However I was looking for a simple recipe that didn't involve all the above mentioned steps. That is when I stumbled upon Nigella Lawson's Christmas Cake aka Chocolate Fruit Cake (a last minute christmas cake recipe). People raved about this recipe and said this was one of the best last minute christmas cake recipes ever. BEST CHRISTMAS CAKE INDEED!!!. This recipe is undoubtedly one of the best ones and definitely a keeper. I was so excited that I didn't even have the patience to click a picture of the entire cake and dived right in as soon as it was cool :P.
I have been craving to have a really good Christmas cake or plum cake as we call it in India for a really long time now. We always had bakery or store bought plum cake at home in India during christmas. Since the past 3 years after moving to US I really miss my family, friends and all the festivities that surrounds us during this time of the year. But it was the thought of making a Christmas cake at home that cheered me up instantly. And I am so glad that I made this yesterday night. This cake turned out to be delicious, moist and everything that a christmas fruit cake should be. People who tried out the original recipe mentioned that this was a very forgiving cake and so I went ahead and made few changes of my own. For starters my version is a non alcoholic one. The original recipe calls for Tia Maria or any coffee liqueur. I reduced the amount of prunes, raisins, currants and orange juice. Although this cake is named as Chocolate Fruit Cake on Nigella's website it only has a very subtle but perfect hint of chocolate. And the color of the cake is PERFECT.
Makes around 12 - 15 big slices
Recipe: Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Fruit Cake
2 cups of chopped prunes
1 cup raisins
1 cup currants
Juice and zest of 1 & 1/2 orange
1 & 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup of muscovado sugar
2/3 cup of honey
1/2 cup of coffee concentrate (brewed coffee regular strength) or you can also use orange juice but i think it will only make the cake more orangey - the original recipe calls for Tia Maria or any other coffee liqueur.
1 tsp of mixed spice
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
3 large eggs (beaten)
1 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 cup of almond meal
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1) First up butter and then line the bottom and sides of a 8 inch wide and 3 1/2 inch deep loose bottomed cake tin with double layer of parchment paper. I used a regular 8"x8" baking pan since I didn't have a loose bottomed cake tin. The sides of the cake tin should be lined in a such a way that the parchment paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin (lining that is twice as deep as the tin). The butter will help the parchment paper stick and stand up.
2) In a large wide saucepan, add the chopped prunes, currants, raisins, butter, muscovado sugar, coffee, honey, mixed spice, unsweetened cocoa, orange juice and zest and bring this mixture to a gentle boil, stirring very gently as the butter melts. Simmer the mixture for around 10 minutes and then take it off the heat. Let it stand for 30 minutes to cool.
3) While the mixture is cools off preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
3) After 30 minutes the mixture will be cool enough, if not let it stand for few more minutes. Now add the beaten eggs, all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda and stir it with a spatula and combine everything very well.
4) Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Place it in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When the cake is done the top will be firm, a bit sticky and shiny to look. When toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake it will still be little gooey. My cake was done in 1 1/2 hrs.
5) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack and let it cool completely. This might take a while. When cool enough unmould the cake from the tin and serve or if not serving immediately wrap it a parchment paper and then into a foil.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!! :D