C is for ... Chocolate Fruit Cake
I cannot remember the source of this recipe but I do remember that I've made it twice in my life. Once about fifteen or so years ago, and the second time just a few days ago.
I had - perhaps unwisely given my lack of culinary skills - asked DH what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday and he had instantly replied, "Chocolate fruit cake." Obviously if it had left that great an impression on him, I could only comply with his wishes. Right?
Be warned: the preparation time for this cake is lengthy but it's well worth it. I've used metric measurements but any online converter should give equivalents.
The cake is excellent as a Christmas cake but is obviously good for other special occasions too. I wouldn't make it as an everyday cake ... but that's just me. This cake will easily serve 24 or more. It's quite rich and heavy and a little goes a long way.
Chocolate Fruit Cake
220g dried figs, sliced
140g pitted prunes, halved
180g glace apricots, diced (if you're able to get them otherwise dried apricots are a worthy substitute)
125g pitted dates, halved
1/2 cup of orange juice or black tea
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped orange zest (leave it out if you don't have it)
3 cups plain flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (again, if you can't find it, use ordinary cocoa powder)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
90g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups packed brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup good-quality fruit mince (or apple sauce if fruit mince is unavailable)
300g toasted pecans or walnuts (or untoasted if you happen to be like me and too scared to toast them in case you end up burning them all)
To decorate: icing sugar, melted chocolate, whole almonds, or whatever you fancy
Step 1: Thoroughly combine the first six ingredients (dried fruits, zest and juice/tea), cover tightly, and leave for at least one hour or overnight.
Step 2: Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Butter and flour a 12-cup capacity 28cm bundt tin or very deep ring tin. I used a round tin for this cake because it was the only tin large enough that I had (and even then it was still on the small side). A small baking tin can also be used. Baking times will vary.
Step 3: Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together.
Step 4: Place chocolate in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add sugar and grind together.
Step 5: Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar mixture in 3 batches, mixing well after each addition (mixture will be grainy).
Step 6: Add eggs one at a time, beating well.
Step 7: Stir in one-third of the dry ingredients then half the fruit mince/apple sauce. Add half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the fruit mince/apple sauce.
Step 8: Stir the remaining dry ingredients and the pecans/walnuts into the fruit mixture. Add to batter and mix well.
Step 9: Spoon batter into prepared tin and bake for 1-1/2 hours or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs attached. For the round tin it took 2-1/2 hours to bake and a small baking tin about 2 hours. Cover the cake loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly.
Step 10: Remove tin from oven and cool in tin on a rack for 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack and leave for a minute or two before gently lifting out of the tin. Allow to cool completely.
Step 11: When cold, wrap tightly and store in a cool place or in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Best left for a couple of days before cutting.
Step 12: To decorate, whole almonds dipped in chocolate, melted chocolate drizzled over the top of the cake, light dusting of icing sugar.