Caribbean Christmas Cake

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Photo: mjcockerill instagram

We have this every Christmas. The best bit is when you add in all the rum and let the fruit soak for days, knowing it’s going to taste so good. This is quite dark in colour and also called black cake, because it used to be made with burnt sugar.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (9 oz) currants
  • 250 g (9 oz) raisins
  • 150 g ( oz) no-soak pitted prunes, quartered
  • 115 g (4 oz) cut mixed peel
  • 300 ml (½ pint) dark rum, plus 4 tbsp extra for soaking the cake
  • 250 g (9 oz) softened butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200 g (7 oz) dark soft brown sugar
  • 5 free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 g (9oz) self-raising flour
  • 50 g ( oz) blanched almonds, roughly chopped (leave lots of big chunks)
  • tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extrart

For the Fruit Topping

  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 20–24 no-soak pitted prunes
  • 16–20 no-soak stoned apricots
  • 16–24 glacé cherries, coloured if liked
  • 9–12 no-soak dried figs
  • 50 g blanched almonds

Method

  • Put the dried fruit and mixed peel in a saucepan and cover with rum. Bring to the boil, stir, then immediately turn off the heat. Cover and leave the fruit to macerate in the rum either overnight or up to 2 days, stirring from time to time.
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 25 cm (10 in) round cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale, then beat in the eggs a little at a time, adding 1 tbsp of the flour after each addition until smooth and creamy. Beat in the remaining flour. Stir in the almonds, spice and vanilla extract followed by the fruit. Mix well, adding a couple of spoonfuls of rum if the mixture is too stiff – it should easily fall off the back of the spoon but should not be too runny.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, cover loosely with foil and bake for about 2 hours. Remove the foil 30 minutes before the end of cooking time. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. While the cake is still warm, make holes all over it with a skewer and pour over the 4 tbsp rum. Leave to cool in the tin overnight, then turn the cake out. Decorate and serve immediately, or wrap in foil and keep for up to 1 week before decorating.
  • To decorate, heat the apricot jam and rum until they are mixed together, then brush some of this glaze on to the surface of the cake. Arrange the topping on the cake, either in circles or rows. Brush the fruit very generously with the rest of the glaze, so that the top is shiny. Leave to cool and store in a tin in a dark place. Eat within a week.