One of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas at home in Yorkshire was my grandma’s famous traditional Christmas cake drowned in brandy and layered so thick with marzipan and icing sugar that it took all day to reach the fruit cake beneath! It was simply divine…and probably really bad for our blood sugar levels and teeth, but we didn’t care.
For some reason, my sweet little grandma also made so much cake that we’d be still eating the last slices by the following winter when it was time to start the baking process again. Maybe she just wanted to extend Christmas for as long as possible, who knows. What I do know is that Christmas wouldn’t be the same now without the traditional cake.
This year, I bit the bullet and decided to make my own version with a slightly healthy upgrade and modern twist.
yields: 1 large cake – about 12 generous servings
- 300g all purpose gluten free flour – Gf option
- 500g currants
- 230g golden sultanas
- 220g goji berries
- grated peel of 2 oranges – slightly lowers the sugar content by avoiding the usual candied (sugary) peel
- 150g cranberries, halved – use fresh or dried
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 6 large (organic free range) eggs, lightly beaten
- Pinch high mineral salt
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp vanilla powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ level tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 300g ghee – ghee, melted, gives the cake a super moist texture, but you can also use either coconut oil for a dairy-free version or normal butter
- 250g coconut flour sugar – lower GI content than sugar and is higher in minerals
- 4 TBS apple juice (instead of brandy, or you can use brandy! TIP: in the bottom of the cake box that you will use to store the cake in, poor a thin layer (a few extra tablespoons) of either your apple juice or brandy and sit the finished cake on top of this so that it can soak up the extra liquid. Leave for a few days to allow the cake to soak-up the extra liquid.
- Heat the oven to 150°C – you need a low temperature so that the cake can take time to cook – it will take at least 4 hours to bake.
- Line a 9 inch cake tin with 2 thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown or newspaper paper around the outside – make sure to go just about an inch above the cake tin lip. This will help stop the cake from burning. If the top of the cake looks to be burning, you can also add a sheet of paper on top of the lid.
- In a large bowl mix the fruits, flours and spices.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well as you go along. Don’t worry too much if it curdles, it will still taste good!
- Slowly, fold in the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture. Add the apple juice liquid and stir again.
- Spoon mixture into the cake tin. Make a smooth flat top for the icing.
- Bake for 4½ hours. Test with a fork to see if your cake is crumbly but not too dry. If it is “wet” you need to bake the cake for longer.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour.
- The cake should be stored in an airtight container.
- Ice / frost using the frosting recipe below near to the time of eating.
- 2 cups raw and unsalted cashews – soak overnight and drain
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup cacao butter, melted – for best result, melt bain-marie style
- 1/3 cup honey – I use acacia honey so that we keep the whitish colour of the frosting
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Simply blend the ingredients in a high-speed blender until you get a super smooth and thick frosting. Best to do this once the cake is cooked so that the frosting does not harden before you ice the cake.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto the cake top and set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. The frosting should be firm.
- The cake will now need to stay in the fridge to prevent the frosting from melting.