Chunky Christmas cake

Chunky Christmas cakeLighter in colour than the traditional Christmas cake this recipe is ideal for those who are not keen on icing and is a definite must for nut lovers.

Use a good quality marzipan with a high percentage of almonds to add to the nutty flavour.
To get a completely flat top for decorating, leave the cake to cool upside down then decorate the bottom as opposed to the top.

If you want to decorate it the traditional way; warm the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water and brush the over the sides and top (bottom) of the cake. On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar roll out 350 g marzipan to ½ cm thickness.

Cut to size a circle of marzipan and cover the top of the cake. Cut a long strip of rolled marzipan to cover the sides and press gently into place. Brush lightly with warm water then cover with royal icing.

CHUNKY CHRISTMAS CAKE
Serves 18

INGREDIENTS:

250 g softened butter
250 g dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs
250 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons mixed spice
50 g whole almonds, halved
50 g pecans
50 g Brazil nuts, quartered
50 g dried apricots, roughly chopped
250 g sultanas
125 g glace cherries, halved
50 g candid peel
75 ml milk
zest 1 orange, finely grated
brandy or rum (opt)
Covering:
2 -3 tbsp apricot jam
150 g pack marzipan
glace cherries and figs
whole nuts such as Brazils and almonds

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Butter a deep 23 cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and adding a heaped tbsp of the flour with the third egg.

Fold in the remaining flour, spices, nuts and dried fruits then stir in the orange zest and milk.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes. Test if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre.
If the skewer does not come out clean, reduce the heat to 150C/Gas 2, cover the top of the cake with foil and continue to bake a little longer.

Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a rack. Leave until completely cold.

At this stage the cake can be wrapped in foil and stored in an air-tight tin until ready for finishing.

If rum or brandy is to be added make holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle with a tbsp of the alcohol. This process can be repeated once a week for 8 weeks.

When you are ready to finish decorating the cake paint the top with warmed apricot jam and cover with a cut to size circle of marzipan.
Spread more jam over and decorate with the whole fruit and nuts. Brush the top with more jam to glaze and leave until dry.

Store in an air-tight tin for up to a week.

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