About this recipe:Most rich fruit cakes are high in fat and added sugar, but this one is an exception. It's relatively low in fat, and depends mainly on dried fruits soaked in apple juice for natural sweetness. Decorated with nuts, and glacé and crystallised fruits, it makes a healthy cake that would be festive enough for Christmas.
85 g (3 oz) dried cranberries
85 g (3 oz) sultanas
85 g (3 oz) dried pears, chopped
85 g (3 oz) stoned prunes, chopped
85 g (3 oz) dried figs, chopped
85 g (3 oz) stoned dried dates, chopped
250 ml (8½ fl oz) apple juice
50 g (1¾ oz) pecan nuts, chopped
50 g (1¾ oz) candied ginger, chopped
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 tbsp sunflower oil
75 g (2½ oz) molasses sugar
115 g (4 oz) self-raising white flour
115 g (4 oz) self-raising wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground mixed spice
3–4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk, as needed
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:1hr30min › Ready in:2hr
Place all the dried fruit in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the apple juice, place over a moderate heat and bring slowly to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 3–4 minutes or until the fruit begins to absorb the liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave, covered, until completely cold. Stir in the pecan nuts, ginger, and lemon zest and juice.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF, gas mark 2). Brush a 23 cm (9 in) ring tin with a little oil. In a bowl, beat together the sunflower oil, egg and sugar until smooth.
Sift the white and wholemeal flours, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl, tipping in any bran in the sieve. Add the soaked fruit and the egg mixture, and stir well to combine thoroughly. Stir in enough milk to make a fairly soft mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 1¼–1½ hours or until risen, firm and golden brown, and just beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least 1 hour before running a knife around the edge and turning it out. Wrap in greaseproof paper and foil, and store for 2–3 weeks before serving, to allow the flavours to mature.
To decorate the cake, gently heat the jam with 1 tsp water, then press through a sieve. Brush the top of the cake with the jam. Arrange the cherries, nuts and candied ginger on top, pressing them gently into the jam. Finally, dust with sifted icing sugar.
Some more ideas
For easier slicing, bake the cake in a long loaf tin, about 1.4 litres (2½ pints) in capacity. * Soak the fruit in cherry brandy instead of apple juice.
Dried figs are a good source of fibre and also contain compounds known to have mild laxative effects. Drying the fruit concentrates their nutrients, making them a useful source of calcium and iron. * Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats, and they provide useful amounts of vitamin E, folate and fibre.
This cake was just as satisfying and rich as a typical christmas cake. i might even like it better because it's just that bit lighter, not so heavy like most christmas cakes. Thank you - a great recipe! - 04 Dec 2008
My grandma who is now 92 loves this as a Christmas cake as it dose not have the sickly layers of icing but has plenty of taste. I make as a 8 inch round cake and add plenty of glazed fruit and nuts to the top - 19 Nov 2012