Skye McAlpine is a talented friend of mine. A few years ago, she sent over this absolutely stunning (and delicious) Italian fruit cake recipe. On Skye’s recommendation, this fruit cake is lovely with a glass of sweet red wine, like port. If you have a local wine merchant, pick up a port to finish a holiday dinner party. It’s such a fun ending to a fun evening.
Certosino di Natale: Honey, Pinenut and Almond Fruitcake
For the cake, you will need:
– 40g raisins
– 40g mixed candied peel
– 30ml dry red wine or Marsala
– 320g flour
– 30g cocoa powder
– 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
– 300g honey
– 40g butter
– 70g sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 tbsps water
– 60g pinenuts
– 200g blanched almonds
– 60g dark chocolate
For the decoration, you will need:
– 2 (heaped) tbsp apricot jam
– 2 tsp water
– 10-12 slices of glacé orange
– 3 glacé pears
– 10-12 glacé cherries
– handful of blanched almonds
Add the raisins and candied peel to a medium-sized bowl and pour in the wine, then leave to soak overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a 25cm cake tin. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and set to one side.
Add the butter to a small saucepan along with the sugar, honey, fennel seeds and cinnamon, then set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir now and then to make sure that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.
Add the raisins (with all their juices) and pine nuts to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, stir well.
Roughly chop the chocolate and the almonds, then add them too. Stir again.
Now pour in the melted butter and honey, and stir until well combined. The batter will be quite stiff, so stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. If needs be, add another splash of red wine.
Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 mins to 1 hr, until it’s golden on top, and when you press a skewer into the cake, it comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
To decorate, spoon the jam into a small saucepan with the water; set over a low to medium heat until the jam becomes syrupy and begins to bubble. Take it off the heat and use a pastry brush to glaze the cake, then lightly press the glacé fruits and nuts on to the top of the cake leaving no gaps. Brush the remaining glaze over the nuts so that it is all shiny.
For those of you that need measurements in cups see the conversion chart here
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