Turkish Creole Christmas Cake

For twenty years (gulp!) I have been making Delia Smith’s Creole Christmas Cake. It’s so moist and so full of fruit it is more a pudding than a traditional cake and for people who don’t really “do cake” it makes a more acceptable finish to Christmas Dinner served with whipped cream.

I’ve had to seriously adapt the recipe this year because I don’t have some of the usual ingredients but it is a pretty flexible recipe and the main thing is soak the fruit in booze and spices for as long as possible. So if you’re worried about mucking around with expensive ingredients and maybe wasting them this recipe works.

This cake doesn’t need as long to mature as normal Christmas Cakes so making it now is fine.

The dried fruit and nut mix should add up to 1 ½ lbs and you can use pretty much anything you like so long as there are a lot more fruit than nuts and you chop up any larger dried fruit like prunes and apricots. I’m using cranberries because I have loads of them and sultanas because I like them.

Fruit and Spice mix

8oz dried cranberries
8oz sultanas
4oz mixed peel (if you can’t get mixed peel add an extra 2oz each of nuts and sultanas)
4oz chopped nuts
2 Cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons grape molasses
1 tablespoon runny honey (to cut the sourness of the grape molasses)

Half a bottle of red wine, splash of Bacardi white rum, teaspoon of angostura bitters if you have them.

Put the dried fruit, nuts and spices in a saucepan and add the wine and rum and bitters. You can use a combination of rum and brandy and port if you prefer which is what is in the original recipe.

Bring the whole lot up to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes and then turn off and allow to cool. Once cool tip the mixture into a big jar and put in the fridge for a couple of days shaking every now and then. If you have time to leave it for a week so much the better but 24 hours is enough if you are pushed for time.

The cake mx

8 oz self raising flour (kek un)
8oz golden Demerara sugar
8oz softened butter
4 eggs

Cream the sugar and the butter together until fluffyish (new word, depends how knackered your arm gets!) then add the eggs one at a time and beat them in. Add a tablespoon of flour with the last egg to stop curdling.

Now fold in the flour and when it is all combined add the soaked fruit and stir and stir and stir – make a wish – stir some more – force other members of household to make a wish whilst stirring. By now you should have a thick cake mix of dropping consistency with all the fruit and nuts well covered with cake mix.

I did the whole boring lining the cake tin thing, not because it strictly needed it but because the smell of scorched baking paper is part of Christmas! A long slow cooking, covering the top with foil after the first hour produces the same result. But if you want to be extra sure then line the cake tin before you put the mix in.

I baked this for just over two hours at 140-150 but every oven varies and you know your own best. Just put it in a medium oven on a low shelf and test it after an hour and a half and then every 15 minutes afterwards until done.

When the cake is cooked allow to cool in the tin and then remove from the tin and wrap well in greaseproof paper and give it a few days to mature. You won’t need to “feed” it with extra booze, it’s got enough in there.

Marzipan and icing isn’t necessary with this cake as it is very rich and moist, and I tend to just decorate it with frosted fresh fruit on Christmas Day itself. I’ll bung some pictures up later but now I have to catch a boat to Samos to buy a turkey, as you do!