Glazed Fruit & nut vegan Christmas cake

A vegan fruit cake for a recent Clandestine Cake Club event, with the theme “A vegan Christmas”: and what an exciting theme it was and a great way to research an area of baking that is not often in my repertoire.

I will freely admit that I haven’t made a vegan cake before but I have eaten some lovely ones: and there were certainly some gorgeous cakes at the meeting. And I love a challenge, not least aiming to give an indulgent, celebratory cake that can be enjoyed whether you are vegan or not.

Adapting a recipe:

For this cake I adapted the recipe I use for a non-vegan rich fruit cake, itself a family recipe. I swapped the butter for non-dairy margarine, omitted the eggs, used self-raising flour for lift and mashed banana to bind the mixture together. You get a light and moist cake that, with the glazed fruit and nut topping, pushes the cake into what I think is indeed indulgent territory: and surely it has to be?

I made a second cake using vegetable oil which worked very well, too, giving an even moister cake.

Soaked fruits:

The brandy-soaked dried fruits really do make a difference in any fruit cake, and this is no exception, giving a cake with bags of flavour. You simply pop the dried fruit in a bowl, pour over the brandy, stir and cover. Leave this for at least 48 hours, giving a stir every day or so: the fruit will soak up the brandy and plump up beautifully.

Mix-and-match!

The fruits you use really can be whatever you have to hand: for this cake, which I made in a 21b loaf tin, I used about 400g dried fruits.

Serving:

While this cake is excellent sliced and eaten just as it is, it is great as a dessert: sliced and then warmed up, with a near-instant sauce of hot orange juice, brandy and a little sugar poured over.

Glazed vegan fruit cake

Dried fruit mixture (for soaking in brandy!):

  • 100g currants
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g raisins
  • 30g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 50g dried cranberries, chopped
  • 100g dried cherries, chopped
  • 30g mixed peel, chopped
  • grated zest of a large orange
  • generous splash of brandy or rum

Cake mixture:

  • 90g vegan butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 10g walnut oil
  • 80g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black treacle
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • about 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g nuts such as almonds, pistachios, pecans – roughly chopped
  • juice of a large orange
  • 80ml apple juice
  • whole blanched almonds for decoration

To finish:

  • walnut halves
  • pecan halves
  • dried cherries that have been macerating in brandy
  • dried apricots, sliced in half horizonally
  • 2 tablespoons smooth apricot jam
  • 4 tablespoons brandy

(1) Double-line a loaf tin with greaseproof and preheat the oven to 120C(fan).

(2) Beat the butter, walnut oil, sugar, treacle and banana together for a few minutes until well incorporated and smooth. Mix in the fruit, chopped nuts, ground almonds, orange juice and apple juice.

(3) Sift the flour and spices together and gently mix into the cake mixture until well incorporated. Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the top. Place whole almonds over the top.

(4) Cover the top loosely with greseproof and bake at 120C (fan) for between 2hrs 30 minutes and 3 hours, removing the greaseproof after 2 hours. Leave to cool in the tin.

(5) Put the apricot jam and brandy in a small pan and heat gently just until it simmers. Remove from the heat and brush over the top of the cake. Place the nuts, apricots and cherries on the top and brush with more of the apricot glaze. Wrap loosely in greaseproof and place in an airtight container until you want to eat it.

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