Monday, December 15, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 8. Let's bake!

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. Except today we're veering off-course a bit. We hope you don't mind. Because, you know, cake.

Christmas and baking just seem to go together, even in our sun-baked summer. This recipe isn't specifically a Christmas cake, but its dense fruitiness and spices make it suitably festive. Served warm, it could even do a pretty good job as Christmas pudding.

Chunky Fig, Apricot and Prune Cake

(Adapted a little from this River Cottage recipe, published in River Cottage Every Day. Feel free to follow the original, it's delicious. This one bumps up the spice a bit, substitutes a couple of things I had at hand, and has tips from my cooking experience.)

200g soft, dark brown sugar
200g butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
225g wholemeal spelt flour
1tsp baking powder
2 heaped tsp mixed spice
150g prunes
150g dried figs
150g dried apricots
2 tbsp marmalade
finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
rosemary leaves from about 4 sprigs, very finely chopped
It looks like a lot of rosemary, but interestingly, when finely chopped and cooked, it adds only a barely discernible 'little something' to the finished cake.

Preheat oven to 155 - 160 degrees Celcius. Butter a 26cm round springform tin and line the bottom with baking paper. (If your tin is a different size it may alter the baking time - see note at end of recipe.)

Combine flour, mixed spice and baking powder in a bowl and use a whisk to mix well.

Cut dried fruit: each apricot and prune into about 3 pieces, each fig into 5 or 6, removing the hard stalks. Mix together in a separate bowl with the marmalade, orange and lemon zest and rosemary.

Beat butter and sugar very well until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mixture with each and mixing very well. Gently mix in the rest of the flour, then the dried fruit mix, until just combined.

Spoon into the prepared tin and pop in the oven. After 35 minutes, check and if the cake is browning a fair bit on top, cover with foil. Bake another 10 minutes and test with skewer to ensure it's cooked through.

Note on cooking time: This is significantly shorter than the cooking time in the original recipe. This is at least in part due to my use of a wider tin; also perhaps my oven is hotter. In any case, do keep an eye on the cake because you don't want it overcooked or burnt on top.

Leave to cool on a rack for as long as you can resist. Enjoy!
No food stylists here, just happy tummies.
(Oh, and it's worth checking out the outrageous serving suggestion at the bottom of the original recipe, even if just to dream about it.)

- Jane & Fiona xx


  1. Oh, this looks yummy! Definitely going to try this

    1. You won't regret it Justine :) As a bonus, dried figs seem to come in packets of about 300g so you will need to make the cake again soon to use them up, heheh.


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