I wanted to try something a bit different from the usual rich dark fruit cake this year, so if you fancy a change, try this boozy version of a carrot cake, inspired by my trip to Brazil. Many people find a traditional christmas cake a bit too much on top of all the seasonal excess anyway. Not that you could describe this cake as abstemious or frugal in any way, but a nice change of flavour.
For an 8" round cake tin you will need -
4 oz raisins
2oz chopped ready to eat prunes
4 oz natural colour glace cherries
2oz mixed peel
soaked in -
2 fl oz brandy
2fl oz sherry or port
2 fl oz Cachaca (or rum)
1 teasp Angostura bitters
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest and juice of 3 limes and 1 lemon
either in the fridge for a few days, or overnight in the kitchen for the flavours to be absorbed.
When you're ready to make the cake, measure out -
12 oz plain flour
2 teasp ground cinnamon
1 teasp freshly grated nutmeg
2 teasp bicarbonate of soda
into a bowl and set aside.
In your Kitchenaid/Kenwood or with your very strong arm, beat together -
half a pint of sunflower oil
6 oz caster sugar
6oz soft brown sugar
until smooth and creamy
Sieve your flour mix in gently.
12 oz peeled and finely grated carrot
4 oz dessicated coconut
4 oz chopped walnuts or pecans
It's a bit of a squash in my mixer but mix on a slow speed to incorporate everything.
Then turn into a lined 8" tin and bake in a slow oven about gas 2 until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Should be around the hour and a half mark. It's a bit less in my Aga, maybe more in some ovens. If it looks to be browning too much cover it with a piece of foil towards the end.
While it's baking make up a syrup by warming gently together until melted -
4 oz chopped Rapadura Caipira (this is a Brazilian sweet basically just a solid block of cane sugar but you could easily substitute light brown sugar)
zest and juice of 4 limes
zest and juice of 2 oranges
Cool and stir in
2 or 3 fl oz Cachaca (or rum)
When the cake is cooked, stab it with a skewer and pour the syrup over while the cake is still hot.
I would normally store a christmas cake in the larder, but I think I will keep this one in the freezer until I'm ready to decorate it just before Christmas, just to be on the safe side. It will easily keep for a couple of weeks though, in an airtight tin if you want to make it anytime before Christmas. I will give it a coat of good quality marzipan and fondant icing in the week before Christmas.