This is the fruity, light cousin to that dark heavy cake, soaked in spirits, that has delighted generations of Christmas cake lovers. It delivers, as promised, a cake of apricot-pear-and-ginger goldenness and goodness. This is a gluten-free treat for the greedy; fruit cake with the emphasis firmly on the first word.
The lack of flour makes for a lusciously moist cake, but it does mean that unless you cut it into quite fat slices, it can break into fruity pieces rather than geometrically precise triangles. This is why it tastes so good of course. And, what’s more, it makes a fantastic pudding at the end of a seasonal supper.
This recipe is perfect for those of you who would prefer a change from the usual marzipan and icing covered Christmas Cake. And it is a cake for all seasons and occasions.
for the cake
- 1 ½ cups roughly chopped dried pears
- 1 ¾ cups roughly chopped dried apricots
- 1 ¾ cups golden raisins
- 1 ½ sticks soft butter
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- ½ cup white rum
- ¾ cup ginger jam (or preserve or marmalade)
- 2 ¼ cups almond meal
- ¼ cup sesame seeds (or mixture sunflower & pumpkin)
- seeds from 3 cardamom pods
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 large eggs
for the topping
- ½ cup whole blanched almonds
- Roughly scissor the pears and apricots into small pieces and put them into a saucepan with the sultanas, butter, sugar, rum and ginger jam or preserve, or indeed marmalade.
- Simmer for 10 minutes and then leave to stand for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm / 8 inch high-sided tin with a double layer of regular baking parchment; the lining should extend about 10cm / 4 inches above.
- Stir the ground almonds, sesame seeds, cardamom seeds and coriander into the cooled saucepan. Beat in the eggs and spoon into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top.
- Starting in the middle, work in concentric circles as you place the blanched almonds on top of the cake batter in decorative rings (rather like a Dundee cake).
- Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin. Once cool, take out of the tin, wrap with baking parchment then foil, before stashing it away in its cake tin or other airtight container. Though, unlike a traditional fruit cake, it doesn’t need to stand before being divinely edible.
Make the cake up to 1 week ahead and wrap in a double layer of parchment paper and then a layer of foil. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Make the cake and wrap as above. Freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, unwrap the cake and thaw overnight at room temperature. Rewrap and store as above until needed.