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Quick Christmas fruit cake
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If time is running out for you this Christmas then this very easy recipe is perfect. There is no need to soak the fruit overnight so it's much faster to prepare - it's also ready to eat as soon as it's cooled. It's so deliciously rich and fruity that no one will guess you've made it so quickly!
1kg Waitrose Vine Fruit Mix
125g Waitrose LOVE life Soft Agen Prunes, chopped
125g Waitrose LOVE life Soft Apricots, chopped
100g pack Waitrose Dried Cranberries
175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
250g dark brown muscovado sugar
250g tin Clement Faugier Chestnut Vanilla Spread
125ml Gabriel Boudier Cherry Brandy, reserving 1 tbsp for the top
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest and juice of 3 clementines
3 essential Waitrose Free Range Eggs, beaten
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
For the Icing:
4 tbsp Waitrose Morello Cherry Preserve
2 x 500g packs Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking Marzipan
Icing sugar, for dusting
1kg pack Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking white fondant icing
Waitrose Cooks’ Homebaking Silver Balls (optional)
Wide ribbon, for decorating (optional)
1. Place all the fruits, butter, sugar, chestnut spread, brandy, lemon zest, clementine zest and juice into a large pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter melts. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for at least 35 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, grease the sides of a 20cm round or square deep-sided cake tin and line with non-stick baking parchment. Wrap the outside of the tin in a triple layer of brown parcel paper and secure with string. (This will ensure the cake cooks slowly and evenly and stops the sides burning and colouring too quickly.)
3. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Tip the cooled, soaked fruit into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the beaten eggs, sieve in the flour, baking powder and spices and mix well, until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until the top of the cake is a little cracked and dry to touch. A skewer inserted into the cake will still come out a little sticky, but the cake will be ready. Discard the brown paper from around the tin, to allow the cake to cool more quickly. Spike the top with a cocktail stick and drizzle over the remaining cherry brandy.
4. When the cake has cooled completely, remove from the tin and place on a board.
5. To ice the cake, gently warm the jam in a small pan with 1 tablespoon cold water until melted. Sieve into a small bowl and, using a pastry brush, cover the cake with the warm jam.
6. Knead the marzipan until softened, then roll out thinly on an icing sugar-dusted surface, to make a 40cm round. Drape it over the cake, pressing down to cover. Trim off any excess around the base, then repeat using the fondant icing (don’t use jam this time). Using star-shaped cutters, cut out a selection of stars with the remaining icing. Press silver balls into the middle of some of the stars, then pile into the centre of the cake. Tie a ribbon around the cake too, if you wish.
If you don't have any cherry brandy then ordinary brandy would also taste great. Or replace with same quantity of orange juice and/or water for an alcohol-free version.
Typical values per serving:
This recipe was first published in November 2013.