Last Minute Christmas Cake

45 - 60 mins

If your tea bags are approaching their end date and you're wondering what to do, Cafedirect can help with their Last Minute Christmas Cake recipe!

500g mixed dried fruit e.g. sultanas, raisins, currants
100g ready to eat apricots, chopped
100g dates, chopped
50g dried cranberries
150g glace cherries, halved
225ml cold black tea, made from two Cafédirect tea bags
100ml whisky or brandy
75ml Fairtrade orange juice
1 orange, zest only
2 tbsp black treacle
200g butter, slightly soft
200g Fairtrade muscovado sugar
250g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 and a 1/2 tsp mixed spice
75g chopped nuts
450g marzipan
Sifted Fairtrade icing sugar
4 tbsp apricot jam
1 kg ready rolled fondant icing
In a large pan mix together the dried fruits, apricots, dates, cranberries and cherries. Add the cooled Cafédirect tea, whisky or brandy, orange juice, zest and treacle. Bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Transfer to a bowl and chill overnight or as long as you can.
Preheat the oven to 140ºC / 275ºF / Gas Mark 2. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Place all the remaining cake ingredients, except the nuts, into a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, and then fold in the tea-soaked fruit and nuts.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top, making a slight dip towards the centre. Wrap the sides of the cake in a double thickness of brown paper. Check the cake after 3 hours, and cover with parchment paper if the surface is getting too brown. Bake for a further 30 minutes-1 hour, or until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out and allow to cool completely on a rack.
When ready to decorate the cake, dust a large work surface with icing sugar and roll the marzipan to a circle slightly larger than the cake. Heat the apricot jam in a small pan and brush over the cake. Ease the marzipan over the cake – rubbing with your hands to create a flat smooth surface. If time allows, cover the cake with a clean tea towel and then leave in a cool place for at least one day.
Roll out 150g of the fondant icing on a flat surface, lightly dusted with icing sugar and use your favourite Christmas cookie cutters to cut out some festive shapes e.g. snowflakes, stars or holly leaves etc. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment and leave to set, uncovered, in a cool place.
Place the cake on a cake board. Brush the marzipan covered cake with a little water. Roll out the remaining icing to a 33cm round. Lift over the cake and smooth the icing down the sides. Trim off the excess icing around the cake’s base. Dust your palms with icing sugar, and gently ‘polish’ the surface of the icing to smooth out any creases and uneven areas.
Use the Christmassy shapes you prepared earlier to decorate the cake and finish off with a ribbon.