Olive Oil Christmas Cake.

I’ve been playing around with the recipe for an Olive Oil Christmas Cake the past few years and I think I might have finally cracked it with this one. With no sugar and no flour, this cake is chock full of fruit and nuts and goes perfectly with a cup of tea.

Macerated Fruit Mix:
850g dried fruit (mixture of sultanas, raisins, currants, dried apricots, dates, ginger, peel, prunes and cherries)
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
The juice of the orange
125ml Brandy or Rum

Begin the process 24 hours before you want to bake the cake. Start by dicing all the fruit to a similar size as the raisins. Grate over the orange and lemon zest, squeeze the orange and add the juice. Finally pour over the brandy and mix well. Cover the fruit mixture and leave to macerate for 24 hours, stirring every few hours or so.

Dry Ingredients:
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g whole dry roasted hazelnuts or natural almonds, halved

Mix the above ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Wet Ingredients:
4 large eggs, separated
125g Dunford Grove Thyme honey
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
120ml Dunford Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a large bowl. Warm the honey slightly to make it pourable add to the yolks, along with the vanilla paste and essences. Whisk well and then gradually whisk in the olive oil until you achieve a nice emulsion.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form soft peaks.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix until blended into a batter.

Stir in half the beaten egg whites to loosen the mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites carefully. Use a large metal spoon and try not to lose too much air as you fold.

Finally, tip over the macerated fruit and nuts. Mix to combine (I find using my hand does the best job).

Scrape the mixture into a paper-lined, deep-sided 20cm round cake tin or a 17.5cm square tin if you prefer.

Finishing Ingredients:
A handful of blanched almonds and a few glace cherries to decorate the top if you wish
Extra Brandy for brushing over the cooked cake

Decorate the top of the cake with almonds and cherries.

Bake in a 150 deg Celsius pre-heated oven until the centre is cooked (about 2 hours, more or less, depending on your oven). Cover the top of the cake with foil if you think it’s browning too quickly.

When the cake is cooked, the top should spring back when lightly pressed and a fine skewer inserted should come out with just a few moist crumbs.

Brush the cake with additional brandy as soon as it comes out of the oven and repeat this process every so often until Christmas if you wish to “feed” the cake.

Store the cake wrapped in fresh baking paper and foil in an airtight tin in a cool place.