Most festive fruit cakes are high in fat and added sugar, but this one is relatively low in fat and depends mainly on dried fruits soaked in apple juice for natural sweetness.
Lynn Lewis and Joachim Wahnschaffe
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85 g (1 cup) dried cranberries
85 g (2/3 cup) sultanas
85 g (1 cup) dried pears
85 g (1/3 cup) stoned prunes
85 g (1/2 cup) dried figs
85 g (1/2 cup) stoned dried dates
250 ml (1 cup) apple juice
55 g (1/2 cup) pecan nuts
55 g (1/4 cup) crystallised ginger, chopped
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
5 tablespoons (75ml) sunflower oil
80 g (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
125 g (1 cup) self-raising flour
115 g (3/4 cup) self-raising wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
3–4 tablespoons milk, as needed
2 tablespoons apricot jam
55 g (1/4 cup) glacé cherries
30 g (1/4 cup) hazelnuts
35 g (1/3 cup) pecan nut halves
35 g (1/3 cup) walnut halves
55 g (1/4 cup) crystallised ginger, sliced
Directions Prep:1hr › Cook:1hr30min › Extra time:1hr › Ready in:3hr30min
Use a 23cm ring tin and brush with a little oil. Chop all the dried fruits into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the apple juice; bring slowly to the boil over a moderate heat. Then simmer gently, covered, for about 4 minutes or until the fruit begins to absorb the liquid.
Remove pan from the heat and leave, covered, until completely cold. Stir in chopped pecan nuts, the ginger, lemon zest and juice.
Preheat oven to 150ºC. Beat the sunflower oil, egg and brown sugar together until smooth.
Sift the flours, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl, tipping in any bran left in the sifter. Add the soaked fruit and the egg mixture; stir well to combine. Stir in enough milk to make a fairly soft mixture.
Spoon mixture into prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 1 1/4–1 1/2 hours or until risen, firm and golden brown; it should just be beginning to shrink away from the side of the tin.
Leave cake to cool in the tin for at least 1 hour before running a knife around the edge and turning it out. Wrap in baking (parchment) paper and foil. Store for 2–3 weeks before serving, to allow the flavours to mature.
To decorate the cake, heat the jam with 1 tsp water over a low heat, then press through a sieve. Brush the top of the cake with the jam. Gently press the cherries, nuts and candied ginger into the jam. Dust with sifted icing sugar.