As I sit here typing this I'm thinking of all the good things that have happened this weekend and keep smiling to myself. I finished for uni/placement for two weeks on Friday, got home Friday evening and have been having a pretty good time since then. Saturday Mum and I got up early to go to town shopping and I wore as many things as possible that I can't wear in the lab. I had on the charm bracelet Mum passed onto me when I was a child, my heeled boots not caring whether I was crippled or not by the time we finished and I put my hair up in that messy style that requires half a can of hairspray. Ok, the last one is slight paranoia. I doubt anyone is really going to wave a lit bunsen burner around near my hair but I'd rather not take any chances. I'm quite attached to it you see.
When we got back I made the Chrismtmas cake which I swear works beautifully doing it this late to those who are aghast at me not having made it weeks ago. The eveing involved Ferrero Rocher, Strictly and a really good book then on Sunday I started marzipanning the cake and the decorations which if they work, will look really good. If not, then it is going to have to be a Christmas wreath sort of thing but we'll see. I'm hopeful. The post will have to be written shamefully late after Christmas but then I'll be one of those people who keep those going who are having Christmas withdrawal symptoms. Amongst all this prep work, cleaning up and other busy things getting ready for Christmas I had one of those moments where it suddenly hit me just how much I love baking and cooking. It made it feel all the more special. Does anyone else know the sort of feeling I mean? You can go for weeks or months enjoying something, telling other people about it (hello fellow bloggers and readers!) then out of the blue you get that warm fuzzy glow inside where you realise just how much it means to you. I had that yesterday. I can't describe it any better. It's just good.
So this cake. It might be the start of a new tradition - to make two Christmas cakes each year, one traditional and one alternative. As far as alternatives go this couldn't really get any better. My housemate and I had a big Christmas dinner last Monday and this was our pudding. I've wanted to do a chocolate fruit cake for a while now but couldn't really warrant a full blown, takes-five-hours-to-cook Christmas cake. It doesn't matter because this is better. I adaped a Nigella recipe and I'm not even sorry for it. If I tried to do it again and actually follow the recipe my housemate might try and kill me. I don't think she has been this pleased with something I've made since these Chocolate Mousse Brownies and I failed at getting her to stop telling everyone about it. She even shared a bit of it with a few people and there wasn't one bad word of feedback. This slightly embarrasses me but makes me mega pleased at the same time. I had some of my share left at the end of the week so took it home to give to my parents and they thought it was delicious too. This coming from my mother who prefers the tradtional. My only sadness is that I left my camera with the slightly better pictures in my uni house so I can't do it justice. I promise to update the post when I get back.
I still haven't given you a proper description. Imagine an oh-so-moist squidgy chocolately chocolate cake with an almpst brownie like centre. Then throw in some Terrys ornage chinks and some marmalade for orange flavour and gorgeous stickiness. Remember the plump sultanas and large quantities of succulent glace cherries and apricots. Now round it off with the best white chocolate fudge icing you will ever make, chopped Terrys orange and the all essential Cadburys wishes in the centre. It took one bite to have sounds of 'ohhhh man' to be coming from my housemate's end of the table.
Chocolate Fruit Cake
Moist, squidgy chocolate cake packed with marmalade for stickiness, chocolate orange, apricots, cherries and sultanas and topped with a thick disc of white chocolate fudge icing.
For the cake:
- 175g glace cherries, halved
- 175g apricot, chopped
- 250g sultanas
- 175g butter
- 175g dark soft brown sugar
- 90ml ish honey
- 2-3 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 175ml milk
- 100g Terrys chocolate orange, chopped
- 2 generous scoops marmalade
- Zest/juice of 1 clementine
- Generous 0.5 tsp cinnamon
- Generous 0.5 tsp nutmeg
- 2 very generous tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 large free range eggs, beaten
- 175g plain flour (gluten flour)
- 75g ground almonds
- 0.5 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
- 0.5 tsp bicarbonate
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 50g granulated sugar
- 50ml milk
- 75g white chocolate, chopped
- 25g softened butter
1. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, coffee milk, marmalade, juice/zest, mixed spice and cocoa into a large saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Bring to a bentle boil while stirring then simmer for ten mins. Remove from the heat and leave for 30 to 60 mins. Meanwhile, grease and line a 9 inch circular tin.2. Set the oven to 150 C/130 C fan. Once the mixture is cool enough to not scramble the eggs, mix in the remaining cake ingredients in turn and pour the mixture into the tin. 3. Bake in the preheated oven for 1.75 to 2.5 hours, depending on your oven, lowering the temperature as necessary. When the cake is ready, a cake tester inserted into the centre should come out with a few bits on like a brownie. Cool fully on a wire rack before removing from the tin.4. For the fudge icing, over a low heat dissolve the sugar in the milk in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few mins. Remove from the heat and beat in the chocolate, followed by the butter. Beat for a couple of mins then either use as it is or leave to cool and thicken before spreading on the cake and decorating.
The festive them of this cake also makes it suitable for a few other challenges so go have a look. They are:
Calendar Cakes hosted this month by Rachel from Dollybakes, alternating with Laura from Laura Loves Cakes. The theme is 'Jingle Bell Rock'. A fun cake for a fun theme I reckon!
Four Seasons Food hosted this month by Anneli from Delicieux, alternating with Louisa from Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is 'Party Food' and for me a party is just a gathering without cake.
Finally, is Nayna's Let's Cook Christmas Party Food. This cake worked perfectly as the crowning glory (if I am allowed to say that about my own baking!) of our Christmas meal so I think it fits. Go over to her blog Simply Food and have a look round.