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Easy Action Christmas Cake

Asked by Steph d'Arifat. Answered on 16th December 2014

Full question

I love the Easy Action Christmas Cake yet my family hates chestnuts. Could you please suggest a substitute for me, as I presume it has to be quite liquid to replace the chestnut puree. I had thought of using dates or apricot jam but how do I make it into a paste without adding to much sweetness? Thanking you in advance, Steph

Hi. I made loads of mincemeat with suet last year for my mince pies. I have seen recipes for Christmas cakes made using mincemeat but they never say whether it's mincemeat made with suet or suet-free mincemeat. So, can I make a Christmas cake with my suet mincemeat? Many thanks, jobo123.

Our answer

Nigella's Easy-Action Christmas Cake (from Feast and on the Nigella website) is a boil and bake type of rich fruit cake, where the fruit and liquids are simmered together before the cake is mixed. This removes the need to soak the fruits in advance and makes it a good cake to make at the last minute. The cake also includes sweetened chestnut puree (chestnut cream) which adds some moisture.

You don't really taste the chestnuts that much in the finished cake. However if you do need to find an alternative then we suspect the best substitute is a smooth nut butter (such as peanut, almond or cashew). As the chestnut puree has more sugar and slightly less fat than a nut butter then we would think that 190g (3/4 cup) nut butter plus 60g (1/3 cup) extra brown sugar should be about right. However we would emphasise that we have not tried making the cake with these substitutes so can't guarantee the results.

Nigella has a few mincemeat recipes and most contain some form of fat, either suet, vegetarian suet, vegetable shortening or butter. Some form of fat is normal in most mincemeat recipes and in most jarred mincemeat bought in stores so we would assume that any recipe stating mincemeat as an ingredient will be one made with fat. For a fat-free recipe please see Hettie Potter's Suet-Free Mincemeat recipe that appears in Domestic Goddess.

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