If you haven’t checked out Sweet and Simple Bakes, you really should. Its great for amateur bakers. Started by Rosie and Maria, they challenge us every month to go a little further and bake something you probably haven’t baked before. And every single recipe has been tried and tested and comes out perfect.
For November’s Sweet and Simple Bakes, Maria asked us to make a chocolate Christmas cake.
Chocolate Christmas Cake
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)
Preparation time: 20 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1¾ -2 hours
150g (5oz) soft butter
150g (5oz) light muscovado sugar or soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (6½oz) self-raising flour
40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
400g jar of luxury mincemeat (recipe follows)
80g (3oz) each of sultanas and raisins
50g (2oz) blanched almonds, chopped
100g packet of white chocolate chips
For decoration (decorate as you wish!)
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/electric 160ºC/fan oven 140ºC. Line a 20cm (8inch) cake tin (see below for instructions).
Lining the cake tin: One of the keys to success when baking a fruit cake is the preparation of the tin before you start mixing the ingredients. Because of the length of cooking time, you need to use two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment inside the tin.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat together for a minute or two until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1¾-2 hours until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. You will probably need to cover the cake with foil towards the end of cooking to prevent the top from browning too much. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate as you wish! (I didn’t decorate it)
(check here for the original recipe. Since a lot of the ingredients required aren’t available in India, I made some substitutions).
450g (1 lb) mixed dried fruit (I used dates, figs, blueberries, cherries and cranberries)
100g (4oz) melted butter
100g (4oz) cooking apples or apple of choice – peeled and grated (weight when prepared)
100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
50g -100g (2-4 oz) of chopped nuts of choice (I used pecans)
100g (4oz) glace cherries (I used more blueberries and some raspberries)
100g (4oz) chopped candied peel (I used raisins)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon mixed spice (I made my own spice mix – recipe follows)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons brandy
Mixed Spice Mix:
Grind together 1 small cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon each cloves, mace, ground nutmeg and coriander seeds.
Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and soak overnight covering with a clean cloth. Mix thoroughly through together either with a large spoon or clean hands. Cover over with a clean tea towel and leave to stand for 24 hours giving the mixture a good stir as you pass by. Next day pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars, and top with greaseproof paper jam covers. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool place.
*Note*: if you choose not to use glace cherries make the weight up with mixed dried fruit instead. If you wish not to add alcohol use apple juice or orange juice instead. We have given a recipe here for mincemeat without suet, but should you wish to use either beef or vegetable suet in this recipe omit the melted butter.
I sneaked a little taste when I was bottling the mincemeat, and it was so good. I knew the cake would be amazing.