This was the first Christmas that I have attempted a gluten free Christmas cake. Seeing other people making cakes inspired me to do the same plus Christmas cake is one of my favourites! I searched the internet for recipes and poured over many of them before coming up with a highbred version of my own, particularly packed with fruit and nuts. This is a very rich and filling cake suitable for any celebration not just Christmas. I hope if you try making it you enjoy it and I would love to hear what you think.
For a 25cm tin greased and lined with baking paper
Oven at 175c or gas 4
1kg mixed dried fruit whatever you like. I used Sultanas,
currants, mixed peel, dates and cranberries.
Could also use apricots, crystallised ginger, figs, raisins etc.
100g chopped almonds
100g chopped walnuts
100g halved glace cherries
Zest of an orange
200ml orange juice (you can swap half of this for brandy)
3tsp vanilla extract
250g soft brown sugar
250g buckwheat flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cloves
The first job is to chop 1kg of dried fruit into a large bowl, add the orange zest and the orange juice (switching half of the orange juice for brandy if you would like). This needs to soak overnight or at least for three hours to make the fruit plump and juicy.
The next job is to cream together the butter and sugar (I actually used white sugar here as I couldn’t find soft brown but I would prefer soft brown in the future). When the mixture has lightened in colour and become very light in texture add in one egg at a time whisking well. If the mixture starts to curdle, as it probably will, add a dessert spoon of flour with each subsequent egg. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and spices and add to the mixture. Fold in gently until it is all mixed together.
Add your chopped nuts and cherries to the soaked fruit mix and then add all of that into the cake mix. Fold through the fruit until it is very well mixed together. Spoon into your pre greased and lined tin and gently level off the top.
Pop in the oven and cook for between 1.5 & 2 hours. It will depend on your oven exactly how long so keep an eye on it after about 1hour if the top looks like it is getting too dark cover with foil or baking paper to prevent it burning while the middle is still cooking. When a skewer comes out clean you know it’s done. Take out of the oven and leave to cool entirely then remove from the tin. If you would like while the cake is still warm from the oven poke some holes in the top with a skewer and spoon over some brandy.
When it is totally cooled down the cake can be stored away for a couple of weeks to enrich the flavour. But if you’re like me and can’t wait then it’s time to decorate! warm up some apricot jam in a small pan with a little water so it becomes more like a syrup. Brush the cake all over with this so the marzipan will stick nicely. Roll out two long strips each about half the circumference of the cake and a circular piece for the top. Wrap the sides first then place the top piece on and press together the joins.
Next the icing. I used ready made icing which simply needed rolling out to a big circle and placing on top of the marzipan with some gentle shaping to get it in place. trim any excess off and keep for decorations on the top.
For this part I had expert help! we coloured some marzipan green and some red (although this turned out to be more of a pink!) We just had a lot of fun creating Christmas themed bits and bobs until the extra icing and marzipan ran out. Then arranged them on top of the cake. With the addition of some ready made tubes of coloured icing to draw on the details and a genuine piece of carrot for the snowman’s nose. Just finished off with a dusting of icing sugar! We were very proud of our handy work and managed not to cut into it for a few days just so we could admire all the work! When we did cut it the inside was nicely moist and tasted delicious, good job done and I will definitely be using this recipe next year!