With every year that fades, comes Christmas cake. Boozy and dense. Covered with bright-white fondant. Light and citrusy. Packed with almonds, both whole and ground. Topped with glacé fruits.

This is how we love Christmas cake around here.

No, we’re not going insane. We just like how versatile it can be over the years. Never the same, yet not entirely different either.

This year, I’ve decided to combine our favourites from the past to create a unique and delicate cake. Most definitely number one of the Christmas cake hall of fame.
Picture plump and fragrant dried and glacé fruits, and whole almonds, held together in the shape of a cake thanks to a rich and moist batter.

Do make it now and you’ll have a lovely cake to devour on the twenty-fifth.

To make this cake you’ll need:
250g raisins
125g sultanans
300g dates, pitted
250g dried apricots
50g glacé cherries
1 candied mandarine
1 andied slice of lemon
3 vanilla beans
250g boiling water
250g whole almonds

Finely dice the candied mandarine and lemon slice.

Place all the fruits into a glasse bowl.

Using a sharp knife, cut the vanilla beans open, and scrape the seeds out. Add both to the fruit mixture.

Pour the boiling water over the fruits.

Cover tightly with cling film and allow to rest for a couple of hours, or until the water has been absorbed.

Do not forget to give it a gentle shake every now and then.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds. Heat a large frying pan and place the almonds in there. Cook over medium heat, shaking as you do so, until you can smell a definite almond aroma. Take care not to burn them, a couple of minutes should be enough to get the best from them.
I love how toasted almonds have that slight savouriness due to the smoky flavour. Try not to munch on them because they do add a nice crunch to the cake.

And get on with the batter:
170g butter, at room temperature
170g light brown sugar
200g flour
175g ground almonds
4 eggs
3 tbsp golden syrup
2 small apples

As usual, make sure you have all the ingredients ready: weighed and measured.

Start by creaming the butter. If you’re anything like me, you’ll never think of getting the butter to room temperature before making the cake. Luckily, I’ve developped a foolproof method. Place the cold diced butter into a heat-safe bowl and heat until half the butter is melted. Then quickly turn onto you’re stand mixer, which will do the remaining job.

Mix in the sugar.

And golden syrup.

Now, you need to peel and grate the apples. Discard the peels and cores. All you keep is the juicy flesh.
I don’t know about you but I love that first picture and totally think about printing, framing and hanging it onto my kitchen wall. Naked apples look good.

Mix in the flour and ground almonds, then the grated apples. It’s totally normal for the batter to look lumpy.

Finally fold in both the toasted almonds and plump fruits.

Preheat the oven to 140°C.

Fill two tins: one 16cm and one 18cm. As you can see from the picture above, I decided to go for a 18cm plus a thin 16cm and a tiny loaf. But really, do as you wish.

Bake the cakes for 1h30 or until firm to the touch. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tins.

Wrap in parchment paper, and foil. And keep until ready to decorate.

Hopefully, I’ll see you again next week for an update on marzipan and fondant. In the meantime, I wish you all the best for the holidays – and the year to come. xx