Chocolate Port and Prune Christmas Cake
I never liked Christmas cake when I was growing up. The dense, dark and fruit laden block just seemed like an insult to all other cakes with their smooth texture and softly whipped sweet and sticky toppings. Then I went through the phase of pretending to like it (maybe that was during my teenage years when I had figured out that it had been soaked in booze). Over time something changed and I absolutely love it. As a passionate Christmas cake baker and eater I now have quite a few recipes under my belt. In my opinion this one is the queen of all the Christmas cakes. Not for purists however, the addition of chunks of dark chocolate goes against tradition but it if you have got a chance of converting an ‘anti Christmas caker’ then this along side a nice cup of tea is your best ammunition. On second thought, its so good you might be better off just handing ‘the anti’ a packet of ginger-nuts and keeping the secret under wraps!
340 g pitted prunes
375 g currants
375 g raisins
1 1/2 cups port
250 g butter, chopped and softened
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 cup muscavado sugar
1 orange, juice and zest of
1/3 cup treacle
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
200 g dark chocolate, chopped
250 g glace cherries
100 g blanched almonds
1. Combine prunes, currants, raisins and 1 cup of the port together in a large bowl and mix well.
2. Cover with cling film and allow to stand overnight.
3. The next day, grease and line a 23cm-round (9") cake tin, then wrap the outside with a few layers of brown paper or newspaper secured with string to insulate during the cooking process.
4. Preheat the oven to 140°C
5. Add the orange rind, juice and treacle to the fruit mixture and stir to combine.
6. Place the chopped chocolate, and half the cherries into a large mixing bowl.
7. Add the sifted flour and spices stir lightly to combine.
8. Cut the butter into smallish pieces and put into a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer if you have one.
9. Beat the butter until it becomes pale
10. Add the sugar and vanilla then continue to beat until all the sugar crystals have dissolved.
11. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
12. Add the butter and egg mixture to the fruit and mix well.
13. Next, add the flour mixture to the fruit, and stir lightly with a wooden spoon until just combined.
14. Transfer the batter into the cake tin then smooth and flatten the mixture.
15. Decorate the top of the cake witht eh remaining glace cherries and the blanched almonds.
16. Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, or until a skewer, inserted into the cake, comes out clean.
17. Remove the cake from the oven and, while it is still hot, pour over the extra port.
18. Cover the cake with a clean towel and allow to cool overnight in the tin.
19. Store the cake in an airtight container and 'feed' it some extra port in the lead up to christmas if it's looking a bit thirsty!