This is the richest, heaviest, moistest, most alcoholic Christmas cake you're likely to find anywhere! It's from Australia's "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine (December 2002). The tablespoon measurements for the spices are correct - this cake is so flavoursome it can take this quantity of spice.
- 340 g pitted prunes
- 375 g currants
- 375 g raisins
- 1 1⁄4 cups port wine, plus
- additional port wine, for feeding the cake in the lead up to christmas
- 250 g butter, chopped
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 orange, juice of
- 1 orange, zest of, finely grated
- 1⁄3 cup treacle
- 1 1⁄2 cups plain flour
- 1⁄2 cup self-raising flour
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 200 g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
- 250 g glace cherries
- 200 g walnuts, halved
- You will also need: Brown paper- enough to wrap a double layer around the cake tin.
- Use a pair of scissors to cut up the prunes.
- Combine prunes, currants, raisins and 1 cup of the port together in a large bowl and mix well.
- Allow to stand for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, spray a deep 23cm-round (9") cake tin with cooking oil, then line the base and sides of the tin with two layers of baking (silicone) paper- bringing the paper 5cm (2") above the rim of the tin.
- When the fruit has been soaking for two hours, preheat the oven to a slow 160C (310F).
- Add the orange rind, juice and treacle to the fruit mixture and stir to combine.
- Place the chopped chocolate, cherries and walnuts into a mixing bowl.
- Add the sifted flours and spices to this bowl and stir lightly to combine.
- Now, chop the butter into smallish pieces and transfer to a small bowl.
- Beat with an electric mixer until the colour of the butter changes to pale yellow.
- Add vanilla and beat for an extra minute.
- Add sugar and beat until the mixture looks light and creamy and all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- (This is an important step- if the sugar crystals don't dissolve your cake will develop a crusty top).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the butter and egg mixture to the fruit and mix well.
- Next, add the flour mixture to the fruit, and stir lightly with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- (Do not beat the mixture or the cake will be tough- a light hand ensures a good cake).
- Call in the family and have everyone give the cake a stir while they make a Christmas wish.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the cake tin.
- Run your hand under the tap and then use it to smooth the top of the cake.
- Now, wrap a double thickness of brown paper around the tin and secure it with string.
- Place the cake in the centre of the pre-heated 160c (310F) oven and bake for 3- 3 1/2 hours, or until a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and, while still hot, pour over the extra port.
- Now, wrap the cake (tin and all) in a thick, clean towel.
- Keep wrapped for at least 24 hours, or until the cake is completely cold.
- Store the cake, well covered, in its tin in a cool, dry place- or in the refrigerator if it's really hot where you live.
- Each week before Christmas, use a skewer to poke several holes in the top of the cake and pour over a little more port- this is called'feeding' the cake.
- Close to Christmas, you can ice this cake with the traditional Christmas cake icing (frosting) if you wish, but it will still be spectacularly good without it.
- Serve small portions as this cake is very, very rich.
I have made this into mini cakes in muffin pans and left out the 'feeding' part to make it a little more family friendly. It is still fantastic and VERY popular!
Have made this for the past 3 years now in hope that every year it will get a bit better through experience. Has always come out very well, except this year I covered it initially with a piece of foil and removed it about 2/3 of the way through the baking process (as the years before resulted in a slightly burned top). I also reduced the cooking time as my oven seems hotter than the average oven, which proved a wise step, as the end resulted in a deliciously moist cake.
I always make a point of telling people that this cake is the ultimate sin, but one so good, you would go to hell for it!
I made this fruitcake in late October and fed it weekly with port until tonight (Christmas Eve). This is far and away the best Christmas Cake, and in fact, my family agree the best cake in general we've ever had! It is so rich, so moist, so full of diverse taste combinations--dark chocolate, rich cherries, nuts, orange. Truly the best!