Berry merry Christmas cake
Photo by Tam West
Warren Elwin bakes a fresh, zingy, summery Christmas cake for those not so keen on the heavy-on-the-dried-fruit-and-nuts variety.
|1½ cups||High grade flour|
|1⅔ cups||Caster sugar|
|1 tsp||Baking powder|
|½ tsp||Baking soda|
|1 tsp||Ground mace, or 2 teaspoonfuls if you want more spice (ground nutmeg can be used instead)|
|1 cup||Dried coconut, if you can't find freshly dehydrated coconut use desiccated instead|
|50 g||Fresh pecans, blitzed to a fine crumb|
|1 cup||Cranberries, frozen|
|1 cup||Blackcurrants, frozen|
|1 tsp||Pure vanilla extract|
|200 g||Unsalted butter, melted|
|1 sprinkle||Icing sugar, enough to sweeten strawberries|
|1 splash||Rum, or use gin|
|250 ml||Creme fraiche|
|1||Orange, zest and juice|
|1 small handful||Chopped mint|
|½ tsp||Christmas spice, optional (see instructions below)|
|½||Vanilla pod, seeds scraped out|
|100 g||Pistachio nuts, crushed|
- If adding it, first make a Christmas spice mix by lightly toasting black pepper, cloves, mace (or nutmeg), allspice berries and a piece of cinnamon bark. Blitz in a spice mill until finely ground (or use a mortar and pestle). Store in an airtight container.
- To make the cake, heat oven to 180C. Lightly grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
- Sift flour, ⅔ cup caster sugar, baking powder, baking soda, mace (or nutmeg) and salt together.
- In a separate bowl mix coconut, pecans and zest together.
- In another bowl, toss berries with a little of the flour mixture (1-2 Tbsp) to just coat them.
- Beat the eggs with the remaining 1 cup caster sugar until mixture is pale and ribbony, and full of volume. Add vanilla.
- Working in stages, sift and fold the flour into the eggs until just combined. Gently fold in the nut mix, followed by the melted butter, and fold to combine.
- Pour half the batter into the tin and evenly distribute half the berries across the surface. Add the remaining batter and sprinkle the rest of the berries across the top. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 60-80 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
- To serve warm or cold, cut into squares, lightly dust with icing sugar and plate with a big spoonful of Christmas cream.
- Finely slice strawberries, sprinkle with a little icing sugar and a glug of rum or gin and leave to macerate. Lightly whip cream and chill. Whip creme fraiche with the orange zest and juice until just smooth, then chill.
- When time to serve the cake, mix the creams with the strawberries, blueberries, mint and Christmas spice, if using, and the vanilla seeds until just combined, then sprinkle with the lightly crushed pistachio nuts.