Christmas cake (gluten free)
Makes a large 23cm round or square cake.
½ cup (125ml) sherry
Rind of one lemon and one orange
1 ½ cups brown sugar
250g butter, softened
1 tablespoon golden syrup
5 large eggs
2 cups “strong” gluten free flour suitable for bread making
½ teaspoon ground allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg
A day before needed, put dried fruit and sherry into a snap lock bag, seal and leave on a sunny bench. Flip the bag over occasionally so that the sherry is absorbed and the fruit plumps up. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line the sides and the bottom of a 23cm round or square tin with a single layer of baking paper.
Peel the lemon and orange rind with a potato peeler and place in a food processor with the sugar. Blitz until the zest is finely chopped. Add butter, process until pale and fluffy, then add the golden syrup and mix again. Next add the eggs, one at a time and add one tablespoon of flour in between each egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Mix well.
In a very large bowl mix the rest of the flour, the spices and the plumped up fruit together. Add the creamed mixture and mix until it drops softly from a spoon. If the mixture is too dry and stiff, soften it with up to ¼ cup (60ml) of extra sherry or brandy.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and decorate the top with dessert almonds and glacé cherries.Bake at 150°C for one hour then turn the oven down to 140°C and cook for about three hours, or until a skewer poked in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Start testing after 1 ½ hours.
Drizzle ¼ cup of brandy over the cake edges while it is still hot and fresh out of the oven. Leave it for at least an hour before removing the cake from the tin. When the cake is completely cold, wrap it in a couple of layers of baking paper and then in a clean linen tea towel and then place in a cool, dark pantry.
It’s not a good idea to wrap the cake in foil or to place it in a completely air tight plastic container, as it can go mouldy. Give the cake a bit of space to breathe, particularly if you are storing it for a couple of months before Christmas. Every couple of weeks check that the cake is still ok and if desired, feed the cake another couple of spoonfuls of brandy.
If the cake has become too dry, brush all the surfaces liberally with sherry or brandy, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate it for a day or so. Repeat as necessary.