**FAB CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPE** Nigella's 'Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake'
- The first thing you need to do is to prepare your cake tin. You need to line the bottom & sides with TWO LAYERS of non-stick baking paper. First thing to do is grab a pen, tear off a double layer of baking paper & trace a circle around the bottom of your cake tin. Grab some scissors & holding the layers together as you cut, cut out two circles. Next, you need to cut two layers of baking paper which will go around the sides of the tin. You need to ensure that the sides are around 10cm higher than the top of your tin (or twice the height of your tin). (BTW the reason for all of this is to create a protective shield right around the cake to prevent it from burning.) To make the sides, tear off two long rectangles of baking paper (enough to wrap around the sides of your tin). Place one piece of paper on top of the other & fold up one long side of the paper by around 2cm. Then grab some scissors & cut diagonally along the folded up side at about 2cm intervals to make a frill.
- To prepare your cake tin, start by spraying the bottom & sides of the tin with cooking spray. First, place one of your round pieces of paper at the bottom of the tin & smooth it out, ensuring that the edges fit snugly around the bottom. Grab one of your side pieces & with the frilled bit at the bottom of the tin, fit it around the inside of the tin ensuring that you smooth the paper up against the sides for a snug fit. Press the frills down flat onto the bottom of the tin as well. Spray some more cooking spray around the papered sides of the tin, then do the same thing again with the second rectangular side piece of baking paper. Finally, once the sides are lining the tin nicely, grab the second circle of paper & fit this snugly & smoothly into the bottom of the tin. **TIP FOR PEOPLE WITH SMALL OVENS: once your tin is lined, just make sure it will fit inside your oven given that it will have a higher top on it with the baking paper.** I had to take one of the oven racks out & then I could fit my tin on the bottom rack.
- Put the fruits, butter, sugar, honey, coffee liqueur, orange juice & zest, spice & cocoa powder into a large, wide saucepan & bring everything to the boil over a medium heat, stirring as you go while the butter melts. Reduce the heat if necessary & simmer gently for a further 10 minutes before removing from the heat & setting the saucepan aside to cool the mixture for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 150C (I used fan bake at 150C & kept an eye on the cake as it cooked). Go & make yourself a cuppa & put your feet up now, you deserve it.
- Once the mixture has been left to cool for 30 minutes, add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda & beaten eggs. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are combined.
- Pour the mixture into your cake tin & bake for 1 3/4 - 2 hours or until the top of the cake is firm to touch. Now, as I type this I have literally just taken my cake out after 1 3/4 hours. I had the dilema of whether it was cooked in the middle or not. Nigella's recipe states that the top of the cake should be firm, but have a shiny/sticky look about it & that it may be still a little gooey in the middle. My cake ticked all of those boxes but when I inserted a skewer into the center, it was a touch too gooey for my liking. My cake was quite a dark brown around the edges so to be on the safe side, I reduced the heat of my oven to 120C & put the cake back in for a further 5 minutes & then checked it again before putting it back in for a further 10 minutes. The cake has sunk ever so slightly right in the middle but this will be because when I inserted the skewer in the middle it let some of the air out of it. I'm now confident it will be cooked through as there was only a small amount of mixture left on the skewer when I removed it & I know that the cake will continue to cook out of the oven for a few more minutes because it will retain it's heat for a while.
- Once you remove the cake from the oven, place it on top of a metal cooling rack & leave it there until completely cool (which will take a few hours).
- Once cool, remove the cake from the tin & decorate if you are eating it straight away OR if you want to decorate it at a later date, brush the top with a little coffee liquiuer before wrapping the cake up in two layers of baking paper secured with cellotape, then a layer of tinfoil & finally wrap the whole thing in a tea towel & store it in an airtight container or cake tin in a cool, dry place.