The best ever Christmas cake
250g each plump raisins and sultanas
100g dried cranberries or blueberries
200g natural glace cherries, halved
200ml vanilla vodka, or regular vodka if unavailable
150g roasted Marcona almonds (rounder and sweeter than conventional almonds)
200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g unrefined dark muscovado sugar
4 medium organic eggs, beaten
100g plain flour
- Put the raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries and cherries in a large bowl. Add the vodka and stir well. Cover and leave to soak for 2-3hr or overnight.
- Grease and line the base and sides of a 20.5cm round tin with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan) gas mark 2. Put the almonds in a food processor and blend lightly until coarsely chopped. Tip out 75g and blend the remainder until ground.
- Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric whisk for 2-3min until light and creamy. Gradually whisk in the beaten eggs, adding a little of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Stir in the ground and chopped nuts and flour.
- Tip the soaked fruit mixture into the bowl with any unabsorbed liqueur. Mix well, then spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 3.5hrs or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and wrap in a double thickness of foil until ready to decorate.
- If you don't want to buy vanilla vodka, use ordinary vodka and mix in 2tbsp good quality vanilla extract.
- Once baked, you can boost the vanilla flavour by dousing the cake with a little extra vodka before wrapping and storing.
- Check packets before you buy - go for dried fruit that doesn't contain hydrogenated vegetable oil.
- If you don't have a food processor, use 75g ready ground almonds and chop 75g marcona almonds by hand.
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