Once November 1 hits, the Christmas season starts in our household. The decorations come out, and the baking begins. Smells of cinnamon and spicy cloves, bright citrus, and buttery cookies fills the house and makes the dark days of autumn much more festive.
A couple years ago, I came across a recipe for a Christmas cake in the BBC Good Food magazine. I’m not a big Christmas cake person, so the combination of cranberry and hazelnuts in a Christmas cake intrigued me. This cake is very straightforward to make, and you don’t even need to mix it with an electric mixer (if you are like me, and prefer to just do it by hand). It lasts a good week or more, and you can freeze it up to about 6-8 months. I like to eat it warmed up with a little butter and a cup of tea, or even with a bit of cheese.
Because this is a British recipe, all quantities are in metric. You can convert to imperial, but sometimes the amounts aren’t quite right, so I recommend using a kitchen scale if you have one.
Cranberry and Hazelnut Christmas Cake
200g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
200g pot glacé cherry, halved
100g dried cranberries
100g dried pears, chopped (optional)
200g fresh or frozen cranberry
zest and juice 1 orange
2 tbsp mixed peel, chopped finely
50ml sherry, brandy, Disaronno or Frangelico
250g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
100g toasted hazelnut, chopped
100g pistachios, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp mixed spice (See here for a recipe to make your own)
1. Heat oven to 320F (160C/140C fan/gas 3). Grease a deep 20cm cake tin and line with baking parchment – high enough to come 2.5cm above the top of the tin, or grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. Put all of the dried fruit, orange zest and juice, and alcohol into a small pan. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 3 mins, until the cranberries have softened a little and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
3. Put the sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, almonds, hazelnuts and mixed spice. Whisk again until just combined, then stir through the soaked fruit and any remaining juices.
4. Tip the cake mixture into the tin and level the top, then bake for 1 hr 20 mins, or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool. Serve cake at room temperature, or warmed in the microwave.