Its been a while . . .
Winter has been and gone, the broad beans grew and the leeks lingered around in the frosty soil. We moved house and then spring arrived. With a new crew on board and a fresh garden (mostly shaded by large old tree's) I am filled with new ideas and inspiration for my place in the garden. Today was the first day I have eaten anything from the garden since our last home, the first sweet peas. It all came flooding back. .... the sweet crisp fresh flavour, the gratification of the months of nurturing and watering and the mindblowing fact that it was once a seed that looked rather hopeless.
This post doesn't involve a chistmas pudding, rather a pea podding incident and Christmas Cake . One that actually tastes amazing unlike like most of them. Inspired from the kitchen goddess Nigella, this cake is filled with rich moist flavours and doesn't involve any nasty white icing. Perfect for any drop-in cup of tea people during the month of December . Leave a few hours spare for this one and enjoy the process with some background Michael Buble Christmas or Sufjan Stevens songs for Christmas.
Honey and Cocoa Christmas Cake
350 grams dried soft prunes, chopped
250 grams sultana's
125 grams cranberries
175 grams unsalted butter, softened
175 grams dark muscovado sugar
175 ml honey
125 ml coffee liqueur
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons good quality cocoa
3 free-range eggs, beaten
150 grams plain flour
75 grams ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the top
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons marmalade
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees
Line a deep square cake tin 30 by 30cm with baking paper lining the base and sides. You will need 2 long strips to cover all 4 sides crossing over each other.
Place the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, coffee liqueur, orange zest and juice, mixed spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan. Heat the mixture until it reaches a gentle boil, stirring the mixture as the butter melts. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, the mixture will have cooled a little. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda, and mix well with a wooden spoon until the ingredients have combined.
Carefully pour the fruitcake mixture into the lined cake tin. Transfer the cake tin to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the top of the cake is firm but will has a shiny and sticky look. At this point, if you insert a sharp knife into the middle of the cake, the cake should still be a little uncooked in the middle.
While its cooking prepare the glaze in a small saucepan or metal measuring cup. Combine the honey and marmalade and stir over a gentle heat until the glaze is lightly bubbling, let it simmer for 30 seconds then take off the heat.
pour half of the glaze over the cake and spread. Scatter the almonds over the cake evenly and then pour remaining glaze over gentle pressing the almonds in to the glaze.
Return the cake to the oven while its cooling for 10 mins and then remove and leave to cool.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy with company and a cup of tea.