I know, it’s November, how can we possibly think about Christmas in November? Well when it comes to Christmas cake you have to plan in advance. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas – well this rich but very simple fruit cake can still be enjoyed – in fact, I always pick the icing and marzipan off the cake anyway, preferring to taste the sumptuous fruit itself.
I have to admit, this cake is not like my Granny or my Mum used to make, it is a lighter and more compassionate version. And it’s really up to you what fruit you add – just keep to roughly the same measurements and you won’t go wrong.
I’ve deliberately made this a small cake – I used two four inch cake tins and sandwiched the bakes together with apricot jam to give the cake height. It would comfortably feed four to six people. If you want a larger cake, just double, triple or quadruple the mixture – remember to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
My thought is that there are so many other goodies at this time of you, you don’t want to be eating Christmas cake in January when you are trying to work off all those additional calories – see I am thoughtful.
- 50ml of fresh orange juice
- 60ml of water (if adding alcohol adjust the water accordingly)
- 15ml of orange/lemon or lime essence (optional – if not adding, add 15ml of water)
- 1lb of dried fruit – I went for apricots, figs and sultanas
- 50g of treacle
- 30g of coconut sugar or soft brown sugar
- 85g of veg or soya spread
- 115g plain flour (Gluten Free flour works too)
- 1tbsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp egg replacer (Orgran)
- zest of one orange – optional
- Place the fruit, treacle, sugar, veg/soya spread and liquids into a pan and bring to the boil, set aside to cool
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees and grease two four inch cake tins
- In a bowl, mix your remaining dry ingredients carefully, then add your fruit mixture and mix thoroughly – be careful not to overwork
- Spoon the mixture into your cake tins (remember this doesn’t rise so fill right to the top), any remaining mixture can be cooked in a muffin tin and makes a great cake sample
- Place in the oven and for the four inch tins, expect it to take about 15-20 minutes – you can always place a piece of grease proof paper on the top to stop the fruit burning. As with a sponge cake, you want a skewer to come out clean when testing.
Once your cake has cooled it’s ready for decorating. Spread apricot jam on top of the first cake and place the second cake on top of that. You may need to trim the cake to ensure it’s even – but this will give your cake height.
Brush the whole cake with jam and cover with marzipan, leave it to set for a couple of hours and then cover either with fondant or traditional royal icing. Yes there is such a thing as compassionate royal icing. I’ve not made it yet however there is a whole movement on Facebook dedicated to the wonder that is chickpea brine (or Aquafaba as it is known) which makes the most amazing eggless meringues among other delights.
The vegan royal icing recipe I found is simply 4.5 tablespoons of chickpea brine, 250g of icing sugar and 1 tsp glycerine. Whisk the brine and slowly add 200g of icing sugar, then the glycerine before adding the rest of the sugar.
Once you have decided on your coating of choice, the fun bit is the decoration – I use vegan and vegetarian products by Renshaw. I’m loving my snowman, made out of Renshaw’s flower and modelling paste and painted with food colouring. The rest of the cake was covered with Renshaw’s white sugarpaste and highlighted with a shimmer edible paint.
This cake is now out for testing with my army of foodie fans, which is a great excuse for me to make it all over again.