Thursday, 13 December 2012

Gluten Free Christmas Cake GF

I've enjoyed Christmas Cake for as long as I can remember, I make one every year. Growing up, my mother used to create a very rich dark cake and my Grandma would make several in loaf tins to hand out to family members. It's better to make your cake in October or early November and feed with brandy every two weeks but as usual I'm late in making the cake this year!

It's a Yorkshire tradition to eat Christmas Cake with cheese. Wensleydale is particularly nice, especially if it's the kind that has cranberries scattered in it. Cheshire cheese also works well. If you haven't tried Christmas cake with cheese then I urge you to give it a go! Traditionally a Christmas Cake is covered with marzipan, iced and decorated. But we like it plain, without the icing, since most of us don't like marzipan. The recipe I decided to make gluten free has been adapted from my old school recipe which worked out perfectly at the time.

You can alter the quantities of types of dried fruit. Don't worry about being perfectly exact with your measurements of fruit, I used 2 oz short overall when compared to the original recipe. I don't like candied peel or cherries so I included some extra sultanas instead. I also chose to use dried mixed berries, apricots and dates rather than currants and this is one of the occasions when I use sugar.

Christmas Cake GF

1 lb sultanas (395 g)
8 oz raisins (225 g)
6 oz mixed dried berries (115 g)
3 oz finely chopped dates (85 g)
3 oz finely chopped apricots (85 g)
4 tblsp brandy overnight
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
juice half orange
8 oz butter or dairy free spread (225 g)
8 oz unrefined muscovado sugar (225 g)
7 oz gluten free plain white flour (this contains no gums) (200g)
2 tsps ground flaxseeds
4 large eggs
4 oz ground almonds (115 g)
1 oz flaked almonds (30 g)
1 tsp mixed spice

Prepare the dried fruit the night before you plan to make the cake.  Chop the dates and apricots. The apricots should be quite sticky.

Tip all of the fruit and zest into a large bowl, pour over the brandy and juice of half an orange.  Stir well, cover with clingfilm or a cloth and leave overnight for the fruit to plump up.

Set the oven to 140°C. Line a 7½" or 8" (19 or 20 cm) round tin with a double layer of baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

Measure out the flour, ground almonds, flaxseeds, mixed spice and flaked almonds into another bowl and mix together well. Measure out the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and cream together with an electric whisk. Add the eggs one by one and whisk into the mixture.  If the mixture curdles just add a little flour.

Fold in the fruit and the flour blend into the mix alternating between the two until all the ingredients have been folded in.

Spoon into the lined tin.

To protect the cake from burning, wrap some brown paper or double thickness newspaper around the tin and secure with some string.

Bake in the bottom of the oven for about 4 hours, testing to see if it is cooked after about 3½ hours by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean and the cake isn't making a sizzling noise, it is cooked. This one took four hours.

Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!