Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The 40 Minute Christmas Cake

This has a little of the "seven minute abs" about it: "7's the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 dwarves. 7, man, that's the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch". Until someone comes up with a 30 minute Christmas Cake, I offer this.

I should make a sign for the tin of this cake saying “DO NOT FEED THE CAKE!” This cake is for all those people who haven’t made a cake by mid December and feel there really isn’t any point starting. It’s undemanding from all aspects and seems to genuinely please guests needing a respite from traditional cakes. It truly is the 40 minute Christmas Cake!

This cake is more Italian in sentiment, than of provenance, with it’s generous shards of dark chocolate, flecks of chopped dates and apricots, slivers of figs, pine nuts, and a hit of fresh citrus. It is the cake to make if you loath the combination of currants, citrus peel, marzipan and royal icing.

125g butter
125g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
100g ground almonds
125g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
450g mixture of chopped dried apricots, dates, figs
70g pine nuts
100g chopped dark chocolate
grated zest and juice of a small orange

Preheat the oven to 160C/ gas mark 3. Put the baking shelf in the lower half of the oven. Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy. Meanwhile, line a 9 inch cake tin with baking paper.
Break the eggs into a small bowl and mix thoroughly, adding them, a little at a time, to the fully creamed butter and sugar. If the mixture curdles slightly, and it probably will, then mix in 1 tbsp or two of the flour. Add the apricots, dates, figs, ground almonds, chocolate and pine nuts.
To the flour, add the baking powder, then add it, a tablespoon at a time, to the cake mixture. Stir in the orange zest and juice. Spoon into the lined cake tin, then bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the heat and let it cool in its tin. When the cake is cold, wrap it, still in its paper, in foil or cling-film and leave in a cool place. This cake will keep for around 2 weeks.

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