Sorry it's been a while . . I kind of went to South East Asia. I spent my time away eating my way through four countries and warding off mosquitos by dousing all my food in the hottest of chillies.
It would seem in the time I have been away, Christmas has thrust itself upon us. I better start wrapping up my gifts of eternal love and gratitude for my family members as I am currently broke. Happy but broke.
For the die hard enthusiasts, the Christmas cake would have already begun its journey of steeping in strong liquors many moons ago. For those such as myself who are a) not that onto it and b) wouldn't be able to resist not eating a Christmas cake if made in August, this recipe is for you.
Because of the concrete like qualities that a good Christmas cake possesses, it takes a flipping long time to cook in the oven. The last one I made for my nana took 5 hours! Ain't Nobody got time fo' that. So the best way to reduce the cooking time for this fruit dense treasure is to either lighten up the mixture and/or to reduce the size of the cakes. Now since single serves of things are still oh so fashionable, the idea of an individual interpretation of my favourite Christmas bake sprung to mind.
My favourite bit of the Christmas cake is actually the almond icing. This can easily be accomplished by adding a few drops of almond essence to your plain white buttercream.
You're supposed to use brandy/sherry/rum to soak the fruit with. For some unknown reason our flat's well stocked booze cupboard lacks all three. What it doesn't lack however is a rather large selection of whiskies. For a flat of all girls it is quite an impressive collection. I used some cheap stuff to soak the fruit with and stole a few splashes of a nicer bottle to drizzle over the cakes once baked. I soaked mine for 48 hours but only because I forgot to bake these the day I had intended to. Overnight should be sufficient.
You could also make these in cupcake cases if you wanted. There are so many cool Christmas themed cases around right now, it would be a shame to not make the most of them in the month that it is socially acceptable.
Christmas Cake Mini Loaves
Makes 10 mini loaves
For the cake:
400g Tasti original fruit mix
150g Tasti green glace cherries
150ml rum/brandy/sherry/whiskey plus extra to drizzle
200g softened butter
200g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
160g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons mixed spice
60g Tasti ground almond
100g Tasti whole blanched almonds
For the buttercream:
100g softened butter
400g icing sugar
splash of milk
a few drops (or to taste) almond essence
Soak the fruit in your alcohol of choice overnight in a covered container.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees on bake. Grease and line the bases of your mini loaf pans.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, mixing until voluminous.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a separate bowl before adding to the main mix. Stir gently then add in the ground almonds. Add in the soaked fruit and carefully combine until the fruit is evenly distributed.
Spoon the batter into the loaf tins until just below the edge. These cakes don't rise too much so you don't have to worry too much about them spilling over the top. Press three blanched almonds onto the top of each cake.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Drizzle over a bit more of your chosen drop onto each cake. Leave to cool for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Do some more drizzling if you're feeling extra merry.
To make the buttercream, cream the butter until it has lightened in colour. Add about half of the icing sugar and beat until it starts to cream. Continue to add the icing sugar whilst alternating with the splashes of milk. Beat on high until a fluffy icing has formed. Add in the almond essence to taste and mix well.
Pipe the icing onto each fully cooled cake and decorate with chopped blanched almonds.