Fruited Chocolate Christmas Cake

This is a real fruit cake but it is also a real chocolate cake. It is densely packed with dried pineapple, prunes, peel, raisins, crystallized ginger and walnuts: a mixture which combines irresistibly with the rich chocolate flavour. I make the cake two or three weeks before Christmas and then glaze if with apricot jam and ice it with lemony royal icing only two or three days before eating it, so that the icing is still slightly soft.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz (175 g) dried pineapple pieces
  • 6 oz (175 g) dark cooking chocolate
  • 4 oz (125 g) unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 5 oz (150 g) soft dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (size 1-2), beaten
  • 5 oz (150 g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons (2 x 15 ml spoons) cocoa
  • 3 oz (75 g) ground almonds
  • 5 tablespoons (5 x 15 ml spoons) brandy or rum
  • 2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoons) ground cinnamon
  • 4 oz (125 g) soft pitted prunes, chopped roughly
  • 4 oz (125 g) crystallized ginger, chopped roughly
  • 4 oz (125 g) walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 4 oz (125 g) candied peel
  • 6 oz (175 g) raisins
  • coarsely grated rind of 2 lemons

Method

Put the dried pineapple into a bowl, pour over plenty of boiling water and leave for 15-30 minutes and then drain. Line the base of a deep, 9-inch (23 cm) round cake tin with a piece of well buttered greaseproof paper. Line the sides with a wide strip of buttered paper which comes up above the edges of the tin.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Cream the butter and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl, add the melted chocolate and whisk thoroughly until smooth, paler in colour and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Then sift the flour and cocoa into the bowl and fold them in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the ground almonds, the brandy and the cinnamon. Then fold in the chopped prunes, ginger, walnuts, the candied peel, the raisins and the grated lemon rind. Lastly stir in the soaked pineapple pieces.

Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin and level the top. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325°F/170°C and bake the cake in the centre for one hour; then turn down to Gas Mark 1/275°F/140°C for 1¼-1½ hours until a knife stuck in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin for 10-15 minutes and then take it out of the tin and leave it on a rack to cool. When cold, wrap well in several layers of cling film and store in a cool place until you are ready to ice it.

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