A moist, chocolatey fruit cake with hints of orange and coffee liqueur. This cake, from Nigella Lawson, is so decadent, it makes a wonderful alternative to a traditional Christmas cake.
It is incredibly easy to make, the most difficult part is resisting the temptation to eat it straight out of the mixing bowl, it smells so delicious.
It is also very adaptable with ingredients. Dates or figs are a good alternative to prunes, a few chopped dried apricots work well in place of the candid orange peel and if you want to go for a more chocolate orange flavour then change the coffee liqueur for an orange one like Cointreau.
Like most fruit cakes it will keep well if properly stored. Wrap it in baking parchment, then in foil, place in a cake tin and store for up to two weeks. Alternatively wrap in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a double layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost – unwrap the cake and leave in a cool place overnight.
CHOCOLATE FRUIT CAKE
350 g prunes
250 g raisins
125 g currants
50 g piece candied orange peel
175 g soft unsalted butter
175 g dark brown muscovado sugar
175 ml runny honey
125 ml tia maria or other coffee liqueur
juice and zest of 2 – 3 oranges
1 teaspoon mixed spice
4 tablespoons cocoa
3 large eggs, beaten
150 g plain flour
75 g ground almonds
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150°C/130°C Fan/300°F.
Grease then line the sides and base of a 20cm / 8-inch round, 9cm / 3½ inch deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with brown parcel paper, again making it higher than the sides, and tie it in place with kitchen twine.
Put the fruit, butter, sugar, runny honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
Once the mixture has cooled a little, add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until well mixed.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
Put the cake on a cooling rack and cool completely before removing from the tin. Serve immediately or follow the storage instructions in the description above.