Hands up, I don’t like Christmas Cake. I don’t apologise. It seems forced, overly fruity, almond pasted, icing sugared overload. It’s not for me. I am partial to a slice of Dundee cake. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t always come up to what you Christmas cake fiends demand. So there is something to find in the middle. I think this is it – it has the fruit, and some alcoholic richness; but it pushes back the icing for a glaze and blanched almonds (so much better than the paste). It being Christmas time, the cake is fed – with the tipple of your choice – so that it keeps moist and tastes wonderful with a great glassful of sherry. Nuts, fruit, eggs, alcohol, and in this cake a little mixed spice and cinnamon (hence not so traditional). Don’t complain, it’s not Dundee cake, I know, it’s a Dundee Christmas Cake.
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g dark golden caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of an orange and a lemon
- 225g plain flour sifted with the baking powder into a bowl. (Keep one tablespoon of flour in reserve)
- 3 large eggs
- 100g good dark orange marmalade
- 100g ground almonds
- 375g mixed dried fruit – (I use currants and sultanas)
- 50g candied peel
- 50g Glace cherries, rinsed dried and cut into halves
- Quarter teaspoon mixed spice
- Quarter teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 80g blanched almonds for the top (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained and dried)
You know, for this it really is better to get everything weighed out and ready. You will also need an 18cm loose-based round tin, buttered and double side-lined with paper that comes about 4 inches above the top of the tin.
- Butter and prepare the cake tin, measure the ingredients and pre-heat oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/335°F/gas 3.
- The softened butter and the caster sugar go into in a bowl, and beat it (creamed) until it is light in colour and texture, liked whipped cream. Keep one tablespoon of flour back, and mix the rest with the baking powder, mixed spice and cinnamon ready for the next step.
- Now add the lemon and orange zest to the creamed butter, and about one-third of the flour mix. Beat in the eggs one at a time – make sure each egg is fully combined until dropping in the next. When they are all combined, add the marmalade and beat together.
- Now add the ground almonds, remaining flour mixture and beat together.
- In a separate bowl mix the retained tablespoon of flour with all of the peel, dried fruit and cherries. Stir together. The aim to coat the fruit and stop it sinking. Gently fold the lot into the cake mix – trying not to disturb the air in the mix.
- Spoon into your prepared tin, and smooth with the back of a spoon. Carefully place the whole almonds flat side down onto the cake mix. Do Not push to hard or they will sink during cooking!
- Put a foil hat on the tin, resting on the baking paper and put in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. After the first 45 minutes remove the tin hat and keep cooking. About 10 minutes before the end brush some melted marmalade and tablespoon of water over the top and let it go on cooking.
- YOU NEED to watch the cake. It is done when the centre is springy to the touch, and a skewer does not come out clean but shows the cake is slightly underdone. This will depend on your oven.
- Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before removing from the tin. Now it can be wrapped in baking paper and cling film, but first stab a few holes in the top with a skewer and ladle 3 tablespoons of whisky or sherry over the top. Wrap and store.
- It tastes better cut after three days, you can keep it in the wrapping and feed occasionally – it will last months!