It is the night before Christmas day. You are frantically wrapping presents, writing cards and eating Christmas chocolates (or maybe putting your feet up with a glass of something bubbly in true festive spirit) when you realise, you’ve failed to make that Christmas cake you promised your mother you’d make months ago when she asked you. Because you’re the domestic goddess (or god) who makes cakes 6 months in advance, frosts, decorates and pipes perfectly festive charms on top in preparation for the big day. You’re that person, right? Nope. Not me, not ever gonna be that organised and ain’t ever gonna be one to faff with layers of sugar icing nor have the restraint to keep a cake ripening in my cupboard for months on end without wanting to eat it! I’m a last-minute kinda girl when it comes to most things especially holiday prep, so last-minute, easy-as, totally damn-tasty desserts are my speciality Not only is this Christmas cake (in my opinion and most people who have tried it) better than any baked version I’ve tried, it takes literally a few minutes to prepare after a few hours of pre-soaking. Literally, soak your fruits, bind with almond flour and spices, press, decorate and serve. No waiting, no baking, no stress.
I’ve been making this cake now for a few years and it makes it way onto our table around Christmas time although it is a deliciously versatile cake which you can serve up at any time of year. I have two versions. The ‘naughtier’ one, soaked in brandy and the less naughty one drenched in zesty citrus juices. Both are equally amazing and I trust you to decide which one is most suitable for your guests! Me and my rapidly growing baby in my belly will be devouring the citrus version this year, though I can assure you the boozy one gets a glowing testimonial from those keen to indulge. Even my 101 year old grandma approves of this raw cake.
So for you fellow last-minuters, I give you the No-bake Christmas-cake. Full of flavour, intensely rich and crammed full of health-boosting ingredients. No one will realise they’re getting a dose of their 5 (or should that be 10?!) a day eating this, and you can forget about any after-dinner bloating or fatigue. Completely gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, this has to be the perfect Christmas supper cake to add to the smorgasbord of festive treats. Now all you have to do is find the ingredients, leave them to soak over night and set aside a few minutes on the big day to put it all together. More time for family games, sloe-gin sipping and watching old family movies on Christmas eve!
This was a best seller in the cafe and has been requested by many of you who have been lucky enough to sample this cake at one of my events. It’s time to share this one with you, dear readers as I know Christmas can be full of madness and mayhem amongst the beauty of it all. Remember to relax, let go of expectation and enjoy the simple joys of the festive season. It is a time to slow down, take time to see all of the beautiful gifts around us and embrace family and friends. I hope that this cake will make it to your table this Christmas, and you can make merry in the sharing and ritual of making as I do.
A few notes on the recipe… You can use any combination of dried fruits you have to hand. My suggestions are based on what I usually have in my pantry but you can make up the same amount with any you have. I make the almond flour by grinding whole almonds in my food processor until fine, although bought ground almonds work fine too. I’ve only made the boozy version of this using brandy, but I’m sure that rum, sherry or even whisky would work fine too. The icing I made for this cake was to make it look festive with minimal fuss. I’ve also made little marzipan balls using this recipe, and decorated the top with extra dried fruit and whole nuts before, so feel free to decorate as you like. Once made, the cake will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but can also be frozen.
50g goji berries
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups almond flour
100ml brandy, rum or sherry
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
4 tbsp cacao butter, melted (or 5 tbsp coconut oil)
1/4 cup xylatol (or powdered sugar if you don’t mind a little sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
dessicated coconut to sprinkle
The night before you wish to assemble the cake, grab a large bowl and measure out all of the dried fruit into it. I buy my figs and dates whole, so I cut them into smallish pieces at this stage too. Give them a good mix, then add the spices. Now take either your oranges and lemon, or orange and booze of choice. Add the zest of one orange to the bowl, plus the citrus or juice of one orange plus the brandy/ sherry/rum. Give it all a good mix. You should see a small pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl, which will be soaked up by the fruits overnight. Give it a stir last thing before bed and first thing in the morning.
The next day, the fruit should have plumped up and the liquid have all been absorbed. Spoon half of the fruit mixture into a food processor along with the almond flour. Process until the fruit is broken down and the almond flour is well combined to make a stiff dough. If it seems to sticky, add a little more almond flour. Remove from the food processor and add it back to the chopped fruits as well as the walnuts, mixing well (I use my hands) to create a stiff ball of cake dough.
Line a 9″ tin with cling-film and press the mixture into the tin, using your finger to make sure the edges are level and pressing the middle down with your palm. You can then turn the cake straight out onto a plate, or refrigerate until ready to serve to make it slightly more solid. You are now ready to decorate it as you choose.
To make the icing, put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, adding a little water or nut-milk if needed. Pour the icing into a piping bag or sandwich bag with a tiny corner cut off. Pipe your design on top, then sprinkle with dessicated coconut so that it sticks to the icing only. Transfer to the fridge for the icing to harden before serving.
Now go have you all a Happy Holidays friends and followers! I wish you all a relaxing, delicious time filled with joy and wonder, and lots of cake! I’ll be back in the new year with so many new recipes, after a bit of a break over the holidays. Until then, thank you for all of your support on this little blog of mine. It means so much for me to hear from you and see your own creations of my recipes. I can assure you I have lots more planned for this space in 2015… It’s gonna be amazing, I know it!
Love, light and festive blessings,