A little bit nutty

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I love dried fruits and nuts. So, it stands to reason that a good slice of Christmas cake, crammed full of delicious chopped fruit first soaked for weeks in brandy, is one of my favourite things. I’m sure there’s an old wives tale about having to eat 12 pieces of Christmas cake from 12 different homes – so I try to do this (and more, for good luck) each year. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I realise, but don’t understand, that some people don’t like Christmas cake. And, many can’t be bothered making it – despite it being pretty easy.

So, for those of you in one of these categories or if you need a super quick recipe for something that will do as a Christmas cake, give this a whirl. It’s a dense fruit and nut cake, sometimes called Cathedral cake, with just the tiniest bit of flour and a couple of eggs holding it all together. You can whip it up in 10 minutes and it’ll be cooked in an hour.

This is a winner to serve with bubbles or coffee. Looks fantastic thinly sliced on a cheese board too.

What you’ll need

300g (2C) mixed dried fruit, roughly chopped (I use figs, apricots, dates, prunes, cherries)

310g (2C) whole nuts (I use a mix of brazils, almonds and walnuts)

50g (1/3C) flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

55g (1/3C) brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

2 Tbsp brandy or orange flavoured liquor

2-3 Tbsp marmalade or apricot jam

To make it

Turn oven to 140°C.

Line a 21cm ring tin (or you can use a loaf tin or a regular 18-20cm round tin) with baking paper.

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In large bowl, combine fruit and nuts. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and mix into fruit and nuts.

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Lightly beat together sugar, vanilla, eggs and alcohol. Pour the liquid into the fruit and nut mix and combine well.

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Spoon evenly into the tin. Brush the top with jam or marmalade. (I usually heat the jam to make it easier to spread.)

Bake for 45-60 minutes. I usually check at 40, then every five or so minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked when the nuts are changing colour and it ‘looks done’.

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Cool in tin. When completely cold, store in an airtight container.

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This cake is so pretty. It makes a great food gift. And, the good news is, you still have time to make one (or more) before Christmas. Buy your fruit and nuts in bulk and you’ll always have some at hand to whip one up.

Merry Christmas!

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