Christmas just isn’t quite right without a slab of dark, boozy, fruit-laden Christmas cake. But anyone who knows our family will tell you that organisation is not our strong point.
With a three-year-old creator of chaos and a fixer-upper house, we’re just not going to manage the patience and preparation that a proper Christmas cake involves. But all is not lost for us procrastinating types! There is still an option for those of us who decide (cough – as late as Christmas Eve – cough.) that we just can’t do without: the emergency boiled fruit cake.
This rich, chocolate fruit cake was an attempt to veganise a Nigella Lawson recipe I used for years before giving up the eggs and butter in the original – but over time we’ve adapted it further, changing the fruit and alcohol to suit our tastes.
Started on the hob, the rum infuses into the fruit beautifully – and whilst you could certainly mature the cake if you wanted to, I don’t think it needs it. Cocoa powder helps give extra depth and flax seeds substitute well for eggs in this recipe since density is what we’re after.
After a long, slow bake, the cake comes out moist and almost pudding-like in texture, and leftovers go partiularly well with a good dollop of (non-dairy) custard.
Make sure to cool in the tin to avoid the cake sinking under its own weight, then wrap in foil to store and present to family members as if you’re an actual, organised, grown-up member of society.
- 500 g mixed dried fruit
- 100 g dried cranberries
- 125 g dried apricots – snipped into small pieces with scissors
- 50 g mixed peel
- a handful of glace cherries - chopped into halves
- 175 g vegan margarine
- 175 g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 100 ml golden syrup
- 125 ml dark rum
- 4 clementines juice and zest
- 1 tsp heaped mixed spice
- 4 tbs cocoa
- 3 flax "eggs"
- 150 g plain flour
- 75 g ground almonds
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 150C and double-line a 16cm / 7-inch round, deep, loose-bottomed cake tin, making sure that the sides reach twice the height of your tin to protect from scorching.
Unceremoniously dump all the rum, clementine juice (and zest), margarine, fruit, muscovado sugar, golden syrup, mixed spice and cocoa powder into a large saucepan. (Pro tip: don't do what I always do and put the fruit in first. It's far easier to melt the margarine if it's at the bottom. I never learn.)
Bring to a gentle boil, stirring continually to combine everything. The kitchen will smell amazing.
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, then remove from the heat. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes to cool and fully infuse.
While the fruit is cooling is an excellent time to prepare the flax “eggs”. Take 3tbs ground flax seeds and add to a bowl with 9tbs water. Mix well and place in the fridge for around 15 minutes. On removing (and given a rigorous stir), the texture should resemble magically egg whites. Ta dah!
Add the flax “eggs” and dry ingredients to the fruit mixture on the hob. Stir well to fully combine.
Pour the mixture into the double lined tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake at 150C for around 1hour 45minutes until the top of the cake is shiny (the centre will still be slightly soft)