“The best Christmas Cake in the world”
The “In” cook at the moment – and for some time, too – is Yotam Ottolenghi who first offered Arab and Israel’s best food on the wonderful book “Jerusalem”. He’s on his fifth or sixth now, and it’s called “Plenty More”.
The recipes all use vegetables and they are just amazing. If you intend to go meatless in 2015, this is the book for you.
Or if you simply want to be a non-carnivore for a meal or a day there’s a feast here. A must-have for all food lovers. Around 40 Euros locally and worth every cent. Having enjoyed Persia (Iran) and its food, another book engaging my attention before gift wrapping it is “Persiana” – an excellent array of recipes and background of this unique cuisine.
Last year, I made seven of them, for family and friends. This year, I am keeping my head down, making one, and simply passing on the recipe. If you haven’t made your Christmas cake yet, this is it! In 1970 I adapted the recipe from a Time-Life cook book published in that year and I have made it every year since then. It’s a BIG cake, weighing more than two kilos so it works out cheaper than ready-made, and a lot tastier. It’s juicily scrumptious, feeds a crowd and, if they don’t eat it all it keeps for months. Its richness is such that it doesn’t need marzipan or icing.
Ingredients for one 20cm cake
300g butter, softened 200g soft brown sugar 4 eggs 300g finely chopped mixed candied fruit peel 225g plain flour 300g sultanas 225g currants 150g seedless raisins 125g glace cherries, cut in half 125 chopped dried apricots 175g ground almonds 3 tbsps brandy Half tsp baking powder Half tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 155ºC. 1. Grease the bottom and sides of a round 20 cms x 8 cms loose-based or hinged cake tin with a little of the softened butter, using a pastry brush. 2. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper the size of the base of the tin and grease on both sides, then put it into the tin. 3. Grease both sides of a 32 cms x 8 cms strip of greaseproof paper with a little more butter, and fit it around the side of the tin. 4. In a large bowl put the fruit peel, sultanas, currants, raisins, cherries and chopped apricots. Sprinkle the fruit with a tablespoonful of the flour, tossing it about to coat the pieces evenly. Into another bowl sift the rest of the flour with the baking powder and salt. 5. In your food processor, or by hand if you wish, cream the remaining butter with the brown sugar until you have a light and fluffy mixture. 6. Add the ground almonds, then the eggs one at a time and whizz well. 7. Put in the flour and baking powder mix a few tablespoons at a time, then turn this mixture into the big bowl of dried fruit. Last of all, pour in the brandy, stir well again and make your Christmas wish. 8. Then, the moment has arrived – spoon the lovely fruit mix into the cake tin. 9. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour and 45 minutes, then lower the heat to 150°C. and bake for 1 1/2 hours more, until a thin knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. 10. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before removing it from the tin. Put it on to a cake rack to cool completely. Then carefully take the paper off. Wrap in foil and put in a good cake tin to store.