Last Minute Christmas Cake
This dairy-free cake has wonderful flavour and is extra moist due to the use of oil instead of butter. The oil also gives the cake good texture, which means that it cuts well even when freshly made (unlike classic fruit cakes), making it a good last-minute option.
Makes 1 medium-sized cake
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 3/4 cup grapeseed or sunflower oil
- 1 kg mixed dried fruit
- 3/4 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
- 2 tbsp treacle
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups high grade flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
- 100 g raw whole almonds
Preheat oven to 140 °C. Grease an 18cm square cake tin and line the base and sides with a double thickness of non-stick baking paper.
Place orange juice, sherry, oil, dried fruit, sugar and treacle in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in baking soda. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Stir in lemon zest and juice and beaten eggs. Add sifted flour, cocoa and spice and stir to combine.
Spread mixture into prepared tin, smoothing the surface. Arrange almonds on the surface of the cake.
Bake for 2 hours 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This cake will last well for up to 4 weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool place.
To store any fruitcake, wrap tightly in a double layer of greaseproof paper and store in a cool place. 'Feed' the cake with brandy at intervals (say once a week) by poking it all over with a skewer, then dousing with brandy. The brandy will soak in through the holes and permeate the cake with flavour.
John Hawkesby's wine recommendation
Champagne: Morton Estate Blanc de Blanc 2002