Holiday Special Fruit & Nut Cake

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Christmas and The New Year are the most delightful holidays. It is the only time when I don’t mind spending all afternoon over the stove cooking and stirring away. In fact the mere thought of it warms the cockles of my heart.  Like every year, this year too I made my special holiday cake, which is apt not just for Christmas day but for every day leading up to and post festivity. I prefer to use orange juice to soak my fruit in as I have a little child but there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this with alcohol in it. I’m going to tell you how you can do that after you have baked the cake following the original recipe. Happy New Year everyone. I hope that you make and enjoy this cake as much as my family did.

Ingredients

Mixed dry fruit 350 gm ( I use a mix of sultanas, mixed fruit peel, figs, cranberries and apricots)

350 gm mixed nuts chopped (use pecans, walnuts, almonds)

200 ml of natural unsweetened orange juice

120 gm Butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin

120 gm soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Orange zest 1/3 teaspoon

Lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon

3 Eggs medium-large sized

1 tablespoon of marmalade or any tart jam such as plum or apricot.

80 gm almond powder (Just powder whole almond in a blender till coarse)

170 gm plain flour

1 teaspoon of mixed spice (cloves 8-10, cinnamon 1 inch stick, 1/4 ginger powder, half a nutmeg nut)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond essence

Pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter

30 ml warm water

60 ml of your choice of alcohol (Brandy, Rum etc)

A square or round tin 8 inches (for the regular cake) and one loaf tin (for the alcohol version)

Method

Place all the mixed dry fruit (sultanas, mixed fruit peel, figs, cranberries and apricots) in a glass bowl and add the orange juice. Refrigerate for at least a day so that the fruit swells up soaking all the orange juice.

Pre-heat your oven to 140-150 degrees centigrade/ gas mark 2. Line your cake tins with butter and double thickness baking parchment and then some more butter on the inside. The parchment should be 2 inches above the cake tin.

Next in a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar. Then add the lemon and orange zest. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each egg is added. Then add the marmalade or jam.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and spice mix together. Add the almond powder, sifted flour, fruit and nuts alternately and using a big wooden spoon, fold all the ingredients together.  Slowly add a little warm water if the mixture feels dry. Last of all add the almond essence and mix thoroughly.

Put the cake mix half in the round tin and half in the loaf tin. Bake for one hour. Since ovens vary in temperature keep a look out to see that the cake isn’t browning to fast. If you feel its cooking too fast on the top cover the cake top with some tin foil. Check the cake in the center with a skewer or spaghetti stick to see if it’s cooked closer to time.

Let the cake cool in the tin before you cut it to prevent it from going dry. Refrigerate and store for up to a week.

The cake in the loaf tin when cool is ready to soak up the alcohol. Make small holes on the top with a spaghetti stick and slowly pour the alcohol into the holes. Let it rest. If you like it more intense you could keep the cake in the refrigerator for a day and again soak it the next day in some more alcohol.

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