Fancy getting into the swing of all things festive with some easy weekend baking? We’re nuts about this rather naughty brandy soaked Christmas tradition (also optional in the entirely innocent not alcoholic variety) and we just so happen to have you covered with all the nut and dried fruit staples your festive heart desires.

INGREDIENTS

250 g dried cranberries
250 g raisins
200 g sour cherries
200 g dates
100 g dried pineapple, chopped
125 ml brandy*

120g raw almonds
100g raw walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cups cake flour
2 Tbsp baking powder

250g butter, softened
250g coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

100ml brandy*
4 large free range eggs
80ml cream

For the vanilla bean custard
Serves 6
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
4 egg yolks
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 vanilla pod / 1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp coconut sugar

*for a non-alcoholic version, we’ve seen suggestions on the net to use orange, apple or cherry juice, or to simply skip it altogether.

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METHOD:

1. Soak the fruit in 125ml of brandy overnight, with a plate or cloth over the bowl.
2. Line the bottom and sides of a 23cm round springform cake tin with baking paper, using butter to stick the paper to the tin.
3. Preheat the oven to 150ᵒC.
4. Grind the almonds and walnuts in a food processor or with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar until it has a semi-course texture… partly fine with a few chunky bits interspersed.
5. Lightly beat eggs together with cream and the other half of the brandy.
6. Sift the spices, flour, and baking powder together.
7. Whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy – about a minute.
8. Add the egg mixture to the butter, and then slowly fold the flour and the nuts in until well combined. Then stir the brandied fruit and ground nuts into the mixture, and pour into the cake tin.
9. Bake for 4 hours, checking it at about the 3½-way mark. Remove from the oven when the center is firm and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
10. Allow to cool.

Best to store your Christmas cake in a cool, dry place in a sealed container.

Optional: Poke holes into the cake’s surface and ‘feed’ the cake with 1 or 2 tablespoons of brandy each week until Christmas. If you plan to ice it, give the surface a few days to dry beforehand.

Serve with homemade vanilla bean custard…

How to make the custard:

1. Slice along the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds. If you’re using vanilla extract, this gets added later.
2. Put the vanilla bean, vanilla seeds, milk and cream into a saucepan over a low heat. When it reaches a steady simmer, remove from heat, and remove the vanilla bean.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks, cornflour, and sugar together until well combined.
4. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture over the yolks, whisking as you go. If you’re using vanilla extract, add it now.
5. Pour back into the saucepan and return to a low heat, stirring constantly until your custard coats your spoon when you pull it out.

Enjoy this Christmas cake, inspired by one of our favourite preservative-free pantry food brands, By Nature.