Whilst going through my cupboards earlier this week and finding lots of half opened packets of dried fruit, nuts and an abundance of different syrups, I decided to create a Christmas cake from the ingredients that I had already rather than buying things specially. The result is 2 very different but very tasty cakes, that are currently sat on my worktop absorbing their choice of tipple before being put to bed for a week. I’ve written down below the recipe for one of the cakes, which has a bit of a tropical feel to it. However, if you’d like to do something similar – create a cake from what you’ve got, then I’ve also written down the ‘formula’ to make the cake with whatever ingredients you have in my blog post Beca’s DIY Christmas Cake. Essentially, all you need to do is make up the weight of the dried fruits and nuts with what you’ve got. Give it a go, you’ll be pleased with the result and also use up some of those packets and claim back some of your food clips!!
Beca’s Alternative Christmas Fruit Cake
Makes one deep 6inch round cake.
- 300g Dates, chopped
- 75g Sultanas
- 150g Dried Cranberries
- 75g Dried Blueberries
- 4-5 tbsp Rum
- 1 tbsp Agave Nectar
- Zest of 2 Limes
- Juice of 1 Lime
- 175g Butter
- 175g Brown Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 175g Plain Flour
- ¾ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground Cloves
- ½ tsp Ground All Spice
- ¼ tsp freshly grated Nutmeg (or ground)
- 70g Pistachios, leave whole or roughly chop
- 40g Desiccated Coconut
- 30g Flaked Coconut
Preheat oven to gas mark 2/130(fan)/150 Celsius. Grease and line your deep 6inch cake tine with two layers of greaseproof, making sure that the paper comes up higher than the height of the tin by at least an inch. I don’t tend to wrap this size tin in newspaper on the outside as it’s only in the oven for 3 ½ hours and shouldn’t burn. Put the tin to one side whilst you make the mixture.
You can soak the dried fruit in the rum, lime juice and Agave nectar if you like, but if you forget then don’t panic! Place all the dried fruit in a bowl and add the rum, lime juice, lime zest and Agave nectar. Give it a good stir and put to one side until you need it. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light in colour. Gradually add the eggs with the flour and spices until thoroughly combined. Add the pistachios, flaked and desiccated coconut and along with the fruit and rum mixture. Give the whole mixture a good stir. We tend to get everyone in the house to stir the cake at this point and then pack the whole mixture into the cake tin. It may look like it won’t fit, but have faith – it will! Make sure you press the mixture down as you’re filling the tin, ensuring there are no air holes. Smooth the top and then lightly cover the cake with a round of greased greaseproof paper with a small hole in the middle for you to test late with a skewer.
Put in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 3-3 ½ hours, depending on how good your oven is! The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean. Once baked, remove the cake and leave to rest on a cooling rack. I tend to bake the cake in the afternoon and leave it to cool under a tea towel over night. Once completely cool, gently remove from the tin and give it a feed of rum, around 1-2 tbsp should do the trick. Wrap the cake in double greaseproof paper and then double foil and place in a tin, the cake will ‘sweat’ in a plastic Tupperware box. Keep somewhere cool and dark and feed it regularly. I tend make the cake at least 3 months ahead of the big day, just so that it has longer to mature and take on more rum!
Decorate the cake to suit your style and age group. I always marzipan and ice the cake ahead of adding any decorations.
Here’s my ‘Tropical’ Christmas cake made with rum, dates, cranberries, coconut and lime…mmmm!!