Christmas Time!

Rapeseed Oil Christmas Cake

So what does Christmas time mean to me? It used to mean lots of late nights, friends, alcohol and food (cooked by other people). Nowadays it means presents, (very) early mornings, wildly over excited children and an enormous amount of preparation for weeks beforehand - buying and wrapping presents secretly (no mean feat when you have a three year old hanging off your leg for twelve hours a day), watching the present list to Santa get ever more extensive and spending several hours managing small children's expectations: "No sweetheart, it's unlikely Santa will bring an 'elephant in real life' and I doubt he'll be able to source a Garden Fairy at short notice either".

Actually, I should come clean at this point. I probably need to amend that first paragraph to “and an enormous amount of preparation during the final thirty six hours up to, and including, Christmas Eve”. Every year I convince myself around late October that I’ll sail through late November and early December effortlessly organising Christmas well in advance. The reality is far less serene and far more panicked last minute frenzy!

The only thing this year that I’ve planned in advance is the cake. It’s one of the things I do look foward to making in my new, improved, grown up Christmas role. I very rarely make fruit cake but I always do at Christmas - there's a special smell that comes with Christmas; spices, sherry, pine trees and sugar and, for me, making the Christmas cake epitomises everything Christmassy (no pine trees in the cake though!).

I always have two small helpers standing on chairs, one on each side of me, ready to stir the cake mix, crack the eggs (always a tense moment that one!) and add the fruit. I've taken to making two cakes; one big one for the grown ups - I liberally soak the fruit in brandy for this one - and one smaller one for the littlies that has fruit soaked in juice rather than brandy!

My 5 yr old has a dairy intolerance so I managed to find a fantastic recipe that uses oil instead of butter. It turned out so moist, often difficult to achieve in a fruit cake, that I use the same recipe for both cakes.

Us lot at YRO love to share so have a look and why don't you try making this recipe with our original oil:

MAKES A 20CM SQUARE OR 23CM ROUND CAKE

150ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing the tin
280g plain flour
650g sultanas
300g raisins
20g dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp mixed spice
120ml molasses
180g golden syrup
4 medium free-range eggs, beaten
50g grated carrot
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1½ lemons

4 tablespoons brandy (I use a lot more than this as I like the cake to taste nice and boozy! But this is what the recipe calls for)

Method

Soak the fruit in the brandy overnight.

Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C Fan/Gas 1. Grease a 20cm square or 23cm round cake tin with a little rapeseed oil and line it with 3 layers of baking parchment. 

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sultanas, raisins, dates, bicarb, salt, cardamom and mixed spice and stir well. Add the molasses and golden syrup and mix them in thoroughly. Stir in the beaten eggs, then the rapeseed oil. Add the grated carrot and orange and lemon zest and give it all a good old stir until everything is well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin – it should reach about three quarters of the way up the tin. Cover the top with a sheet of greaseproof paper and put the cake in the preheated oven. Bake for 2 hours and 15 minutes, then test it with a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out more or less clean, the cake is cooked. If not, put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes, then test again. The cake might need up to 2 hours and 45 minutes, depending on your oven and tin.

Once the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin. Then transfer it to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Wrap the cake in greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.

And if you want to make your Christmas cake extra boozy, feed it once a week! Make some holes in the top with a skewer and carefully pour over some brandy, rum or calvados. Allow it to soak in, then wrap the cake up again.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas! Akalia.

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Rapeseed Oil Christmas Cake

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Rapeseed Oil Christmas Cake

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