I’m not keen on the traditional Christmas cake so this is my alternative one -my Festive Cherry Berry Pecan Cake. Not surprisingly it is packed with cherries, berries and pecans. It’s also one for marzipan lovers that don’t like icing -me! I only make it a few days before Christmas but it keeps well loosely wrapped in foil and in a cake tin. I love to eat this on boxing day afternoon with a glass of something fizzy or perhaps a sloe gin. Lovely.
Loathe marzipan? -Let me convert you with my homemade marzipan…it’s very different with a more nutty flavour rather than the tongue tingling aftertaste of artificial almond flavour. This amount of marzipan will give you lots of stars, crescents, holly leaves or whatever you have cutters for. If you leave them dry a little they will pack into bags as presents for your favourite marzipan lover.
Have a lovely Christmas and a very peaceful New Year.
MY FESTIVE CHERRY BERRY PECAN CAKE
225g butter, softened
200g unrefined, caster sugar
200g plain flour, sifted
4 lge eggs, Beaten
300g dried mixed fruit*
85g pecan nuts, chopped-not too fine
Grated rind and juice of an orange
100g dried cranberries
1 tub glace cherries (remove 8 and set aside), cut rest into ¼ s
½ teasp freshly, grated nutmeg/1 teasp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. brandy
For the decoration:
2 tbsp. apricot jam (warmed & without lumps)
Glace cherries (8)
Caster sugar for frosting
Pecan nut halves
Marzipan stars, crescents & holly leaves
Thin red ribbon
Preheat the oven to a moderate heat 150C/Gas 2. Grease and line (sides and base) a 20cm cake tin that is at least 9cm deep with baking parchment. Make a paper collar –I use (recycled) heavy, brown envelopes (stapled together if necessary) folded in half & then fixed around the cake with a paper clip. The collar should be about 4cm higher than the top of the tin. This helps to protect the edges of the cake. I keep these to use next time & as I just fix it with a paper clip I can use it with different size tins if necessary.
- Cream butter with sugar until soft. Gradually add half flour and 2 eggs and then rest of flour and 2 eggs. Tip in the currants, nuts, rind and juice of orange, dried cranberries, glace cherries, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in the brandy.
- Spoon into the tin. Flatten the mixture out with the back of a spoon and then tap sharply on the worktop to settle the contents. Make a smooth depression in the centre to help the cake rise evenly.
- Bake for one hour, cover loosely with foil or a piece of thick cardboard and bake for a further hour until a skewer comes out clean. Cook for a little longer if it is not cooked in the middle. Now leave for about 30 minutes to cool in the tin. Turn out with the paper on and leave it to cool completely. Remove the paper carefully. Wrap in foil and keep in an airtight container. It is better left for 24 hours before eating!
* I use at least 200g currants plus raisins or sultanas –whatever you prefer/have in
- To top the cake with marzipan-use the cake tin as a guide-roll it out and then cut it a little bigger than the size of the tin. Brush the top of the cake with the apricot jam and then transfer the marzipan on to the top. Gently knock up the edges and smooth out the top. Use more icing sugar on your hands/worktop if it becomes sticky at any time.
- Roll glace cherries in caster sugar and arrange on top of the cake with pecan halves. Add marzipan stars, crescents & holly leaves etc. Add silver balls. Dust with icing sugar & edible glitter. Finish off with ribbon.
HOMEMADE MARZIPAN (500g)
This is sufficient for the top of the cake and lots of stars & crescents
225g ground almonds
125g unrefined, golden caster sugar
125g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 medium egg
- Place the ground almonds, caster and icing sugars in a large bowl and stir together well. Make a well in the centre and add the lemon juice and enough egg to make firm dough-add the egg a little at a time. You don’t want the dough to be too sticky.
- Turn out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth and free from cracks. Wrap in cling film until required.