It’s come to my attention that not many people like Christmas cake. Or Christmas pudding for that matter. I (without boasting) can personally eat my weight in both and look forward to a post-December 25th supermarket sweep for marked-down Christmas cake and pudding.
I love Christmas – it’s not the present giving, but the seasonal joy, the smell of pine in the house and the the fact that I can spend a month or more expressing my love to everyone by filling them full of all my favourite flavours.
This Christmas cake actually started out as a last-minute pudding for some great friends. I’d been introduced to a boy’s parents a few weeks before (sadly that hasn’t worked out, I’m heartbroken for Christmas, violins please…) and his mum brought out a warm apple and almond cake. It was so joyous I thought I’d recreate it at home (initially thinking I’d bake it for said boy as he loves Christmas, but alas!), but with a more Christmassy feel.
Loaded with marzipan, diced apple, booze soaked fruit and winter spices this cake is everything I love about this time of year. It’s also simple to make and works equally as a warm pudding or a cake. And if you hate the heaviness of Christmas cake, this is the perfect thing to serve instead – Christmas spice, yet light, sweet, and just a bit boozy (exactly how Christmas should be).
Apple, marzipan and boozy fruit cake
Serves 8 – takes 1 hour 15 mins to make (excluding soaking time)
150g mixed fruit
115g unsalted butter, softened
115g light brown sugar
1 large egg
225g self-raising flour, sieved
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
60-100ml of milk (I like to use full fat, but semi will work too)
2 bramely or other cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced in 2cm dice
100g marzipan, diced in 1cm dice
Double cream to serve – optional
- The night before, put the dried fruit and brandy in a bowl and cover.
- When you want to make the cake heat the oven to 160c (fan) and grease a 20cm cake tin. You can line using either baking paper or flour. For this cake I use the butter and flour method, but both will work.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light, then add the egg with a spoonful of flour.
- Drain any leftover brandy off the fruit and whisk in. The cake mixture will look a little split at this point, but will come back together when you add the flour.
- Fold in the flour and spices in two goes, stop folding as soon as everything is incorporated so you don’t overwork your flour (it makes the cake tight and heavy).
- Add the milk in increments and fold in until you get to dropping consistency (you might not need all of it, depending on your flour).
- Then fold in the mixed fruit, apple and marzipan. You need to be light and quick with your
folding to stop the cake becoming too tight. Once you have even distribution, stop.
- Put the cake batter into the tin, it will be quite sticky so you’ll have to smooth the top. Bake for 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean (be careful as the melted marzipan will look a little like raw cake batter).
- If you’re serving this as a pudding, allow to cool for ten minutes in the tin and then serve warm with cream.
- If you’re serving this as a Christmas cake, or any type of cake, leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes and then cool on a rack. The cake will keep for about four days in an airtight tin, but as it has apple in you should really eat within two days (you will it’s bloody delicious)
- To make things more Christmassy, cover the top with icing sugar and Christmas cake decorations. To make this really decadent, serve with 300ml double cream that’s whipped to soft peaks with 50ml brandy and 2 tblsp icing sugar.