Christmas Cake is one of my most favourite things in the world to bake, I absolutely love Christmas, the tradition, the family coming together at the table and all the fabulous nostalgic smells that waft from the kitchen through the house. I also love Christmas cake because it is one of those recipes that you can play with and truly taylor make to your own taste. I know the recipe states amounts of certain dried fruits and nuts, but if there is anything that you don’t like, just swap it. This Christmas cake with spelt flour is everything you could want from a Christmas cake and is just so wholesome and delicious.
For example, I don’t like dried cranberries so I changed them for dates and I didn’t have enough pistachio’s, so I just made the weight up with hazlenuts, use what ever you like and what you have to hand.
So you may wonder why I am adding another Christmas cake recipe to my blog, I have two already, but I really wanted to try this one from Love Bake Nourish, as you know this is my favourite cookery book and I just love Amber’s approach to baking. Using gorgeous maple syrup instead of sugar and a lovely heritage flour like spelt flour gives this cake that little something special.
I couldn’t even wait for a week for it to start to mature, I just had to try it so that I could get the recipe on to my blog, already it is rich, moist and Christmas is there in every bite! I am now going to bake another one which I will feed regularly with Marsala and will be my cake for Christmas 2013, now all I have to do is decide on how I want to decorate it this year. Nothing can top my Snowman Bride and Groom from Christmas 2011 when we announced to the Children that we had in fact been married for 3 years !!!
I know its only September and its to early to be thinking about Christmas, but somethings need time and Christmas cake is one of them, feeding your cake with booze once a week or at regular intervals until Christmas will make for a very moist and yummy cake and a very merry Christmas.
Serves 12 to 14
For the cake:-
50g blanched almonds
250g maple syrup
250g unsalted butter
160G ground almonds
5 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
200g white spelt flour
2 teaspoons organic baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Marsala, for feeding the cake (I used Port as I had a really good one, but love Marsala so will use this next time)
For the fruit mixture :-
250g Muscatel raisins
250g glacé cherries
150g dried cranberries (very Christmassy I know, but I used dates)
150g stem ginger in syrup, chopped
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
4 tablespoons maple syrup
50g bitter marmalade
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
150ml Marsala (Or chosen booze)
The day before you want to bake your cake you will need to prepare the fruit. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients for the fruit mixture, cover and leave to soak up all the delicious syrup and Marsala. The cherries and ginger look like glistening jewels and the smell is amazing.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 140C.
Now Amber says, lightly grease and line a 23cm loose-bottom cake tin, I prefer to do this the traditional way and line both the inside and the outside of the tin with double layers of parchment paper, tied securely with cooking string. This way you protect the cake from burning whilst it is in the oven for so long.
Next, place the pistachios and blanched almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit, then chop and put to one side.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric whisk for about 4 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the ground almonds and the eggs, one by one. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt, the soaked fruit, any liquid and the almonds, pistachios and maple syrup.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven on a low shelf for about 2 3/4 to 3 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the top starts to burn and brown to much, cover it with a loose piece of foil. When baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack in the tin.
When the cake has cooled, prick the top all over with a skewer and evenly sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Marsala.
Wrap the cake in baking parchment, a layer of foil and store in an airtight container to mature for at least a week or up to 3 months if you have the will power not to eat it before then, feed once a week with a little Marsala to make it really moist and boozy.