A super rich dark Christmas cake. I’ve been making this for a few years now and I’m always asked for the recipe. The chocolate isn’t an obvious flavour but it is what makes this cake so rich and luxurious. It’s a great cake to make as the fruits only have an overnight soaking and it doesn’t need any feeding – bargain! Try it, I know you’ll love it!
200g light muscovado sugar
Juice and zest of 2 large oranges
150g whole cherries
2 pcs stem ginger chopped
150g dates, chopped
2 heaped tbsps. Cocoa powder
3 eggs, large
230g plain flour
2 tsp mixed cake spice (or a combination of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves)
200g dark chocolate, chopped
Makes: 1 x 8” cake
So, you need to start off with a big pan! Place the butter, sugar, brandy, water and orange zest and juice in the pan and heat it gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved.
Add the dried fruits, ginger and cocoa powder to the pan, give it a good stir and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes on a gentle heat.
Take it off the heat and transfer it to a clean large bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to cool and infuse overnight.
The next day line the base and sides of a deep 8” cake tin and preheat the oven to 130c(fan)/150c/Gas Mark 1.
To the bowl of fruit mix stir in the eggs and treacle. Fold through the flour, spices and chopped chocolate.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin, level the mixture on top and bake in the oven for 3 hours or until a skewer when inserted in the middle comes away free from cake mixture – watch out for melted chocolate on the skewer as this can often throw you!
Allow the cake to cool fully in the tin.
Now the decoration is up to you but as it’s a very rich cake it doesn’t really need covering all over in marzipan and icing.
To top it simply roll and cut out circles from marzipan and white sugarpaste (using a large 8” cutter or the tin and sharp knife).
Trim the top of the cake if it needs it with a sharp serrated knife and place it top down onto a cake card or board. Brush the top surface with a little apricot jam and add the disc of marzipan.
To stick the sugarpaste to the top lightly brush the marzipan with a little clear alcohol (gin, vodka etc) and place the paste into position.
Smooth them neatly so you have a smart flat surface.
I’ve trimmed mine with a cake frill and stencilled a gold snowflake on the top very simply. The Christmas cake stencils I picked up in John Lewis. I placed it into position and sprayed it lightly with a sugar syrup in a spray bottle (simply melt 50g sugar into 50ml of hot water and leave to cool)
Keeping the stencil in position I’ve added a little gold leaf, gold sparkle dust and tiny edible gold stars – all from Waitrose, and then carefully lifted away the stencil.
Another cake ready to go!
To store it needs to go in a box, wrap the exposed sides of the cake with clingfilm until you serve it just to prevent it from drying out.
Chocolate Christmas Cake
Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire