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Chocolate Fruit Cake

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

This is the perfect cut-and-come again cake for any time of the year. It lasts for ages, but has the squidgy fabulousness of something so much less serviceable-sounding. I know there are a lot of ingredients listed, but you don’t have to do much more than bung them in a pan and stir, and even then only lightly. The hardest thing you have to do for this recipe is wrap the tin with brown paper. And I’m not being disingenuous: it is the sort of task that makes a klutz like me hyperventilate, but I find there is nearly always someone around who can deal with that part with magnificent ease.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is the perfect cut-and-come again cake for any time of the year. It lasts for ages, but has the squidgy fabulousness of something so much less serviceable-sounding. I know there are a lot of ingredients listed, but you don’t have to do much more than bung them in a pan and stir, and even then only lightly. The hardest thing you have to do for this recipe is wrap the tin with brown paper. And I’m not being disingenuous: it is the sort of task that makes a klutz like me hyperventilate, but I find there is nearly always someone around who can deal with that part with magnificent ease.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Chocolate Fruit Cake
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Makes: about 10 slices

Metric Cups
  • 350 grams prunes
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 125 grams currants
  • 50 grams piece candied orange peel
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 175 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 175 millilitres runny honey
  • 125 millilitres tia maria or other coffee liqueur
  • 2 - 3 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 cups pitted prunes
  • 1¾ cups raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 2 ounces piece candied orange peel
  • 1½ sticks soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ½ cup tia maria or other coffee liqueur
  • 2 - 3 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150°C/130°C Fan/300°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm / 8-inch round, 9cm / 3½ inch deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. Before proceeding any further, read the following which explains how to do it if you need the encouragement. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin; think of a lining that’s twice as deep as the tin. Cut out two circles of paper, and two very long rectangles that will fit along the sides of the tin coming up from it like a top hat. Before you put the rectangular cut-out paper in, fold one long side in of both pieces, as if turning up a hem of about 2cm / 1 inch, and then take some scissors and snip into this hem, at intervals of about 2cm / 1 inch – as if you were making a rough frill. Grease the tin, lay one circle on the bottom and get one of your long pieces, then fit with the frilly edge along the bottom, which you press down to sit flat on the circle to hold it in place. Press the paper well into the sides, and repeat with the second piece. Now place the second circle of paper on the bottom of the tin, but on top of the two pressed-down frilly edges, which will also help to hold the pieces around the edge in place. Finally, wrap the tin with brown parcel paper, again making it higher than the sides, and tie it in place with kitchen twine.
  2. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, runny honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. After the 30 minutes are up, it will have cooled a little (though you could leave it for longer if you wanted). Add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, however you like, to combine.
  4. Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
  5. Put the cake on a cooling rack. It will hold its heat and take a while to cool, but once it has, unmould it from the tin and, if you don’t want to eat it immediately (and like any fruit cake it has a very long life), wrap it in baking parchment and then in foil and place in a tin.
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150°C/130°C Fan/300°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm / 8-inch round, 9cm / 3½ inch deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. Before proceeding any further, read the following which explains how to do it if you need the encouragement. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin; think of a lining that’s twice as deep as the tin. Cut out two circles of paper, and two very long rectangles that will fit along the sides of the tin coming up from it like a top hat. Before you put the rectangular cut-out paper in, fold one long side in of both pieces, as if turning up a hem of about 2cm / 1 inch, and then take some scissors and snip into this hem, at intervals of about 2cm / 1 inch – as if you were making a rough frill. Grease the tin, lay one circle on the bottom and get one of your long pieces, then fit with the frilly edge along the bottom, which you press down to sit flat on the circle to hold it in place. Press the paper well into the sides, and repeat with the second piece. Now place the second circle of paper on the bottom of the tin, but on top of the two pressed-down frilly edges, which will also help to hold the pieces around the edge in place. Finally, wrap the tin with brown parcel paper, again making it higher than the sides, and tie it in place with kitchen twine.
  2. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and unsweetened cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. After the 30 minutes are up, it will have cooled a little (though you could leave it for longer if you wanted). Add the beaten eggs, flour, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, however you like, to combine.
  4. Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
  5. Put the cake on a cooling rack. It will hold its heat and take a while to cool, but once it has, unmould it from the tin and, if you don’t want to eat it immediately (and like any fruit cake it has a very long life), wrap it in baking parchment and then in foil and place in a tin.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD NOTE:
The cake can be made 2 weeks ahead and stored, wrapped in a double layer of greaseproof paper (parchment paper) and a layer of foil, in an airtight container in a cool place.

FREEZE NOTE:
The cake can be frozen, wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a double layer of foil, for up to 3 months. To thaw the cake, unwrap it and put in on a plate in a cool place overnight, then wrap and store as above. 

MAKE AHEAD NOTE:
The cake can be made 2 weeks ahead and stored, wrapped in a double layer of greaseproof paper (parchment paper) and a layer of foil, in an airtight container in a cool place.

FREEZE NOTE:
The cake can be frozen, wrapped in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a double layer of foil, for up to 3 months. To thaw the cake, unwrap it and put in on a plate in a cool place overnight, then wrap and store as above. 

Tell us what you think

What 33 Others have said

  • I've been making a version of this cake for over 5 years now, (with cranberries, blueberries, raisins and cherries and cherry whiskey/brandy) and as I make it more chocolatey (by covering it in a hearty layer of melted chocolate) I've found it always goes down well. I only make four a year (little tins) and as you say, the paper wrapping is always the hardest bit!

    Posted by Myrys on 22nd December 2019
  • My ‘go to’ Christmas cake recipe every year. I usually end up making triple the amount and divide between 6 small tins. The perfect gift when marzipaned and iced then decorated with a ribbon.

    Posted by Sammyj67 on 20th December 2019
  • I baked this recipe today with a couple of changes. I used luxury mixed fruit and I didn’t have the Tia Maria, so I used a double shot of espresso and I made up the difference with some Jim Beam. I cooked it in 3 small tins. Absolutely beautiful. This is my new go to recipe for Christmas Cake.

    Posted by Shirlee on 8th December 2019
  • I make this cake every year and it is DELICOUS. Always a hit!

    Posted by Paula40 on 6th December 2019
  • I used the recipe as guideline only because I didn't have the exact same ingredients... so for fruit I used a mix of dates, apricots, raisins and cranberries. Instead of the orange peel I chopped up some candied ginger. I didn't have coffee liqueur either, so I used Frangelico, which is hazelnut, and as a consequence I substituted the almonds for hazelnut flour. It looks mighty good, fingers crossed the result will be amazing!

    Posted by casamatilde on 27th November 2019
  • This cake was delicious, though my fruit sank to the bottom. Great consistency though

    Posted by smp56 on 17th December 2018
  • Third time I am baking this cake, each time under different adverse conditions, and with slight variations in the fruit depending on what was on hand, and each time it turns out just more fabulously delicious than the time before. Obviously I shall be making it again to see what happens!

    Posted by Dianamite on 17th December 2017
  • I love this cake so much, made it in May minus the spices for my daughters wedding cake. Everyone loved it. It's in the oven now for this Christmas and got a smaller one as a gift for my new inlaws! Thanks Nigella x

    Posted by Xmascake on 14th December 2017
  • Scrumptious! Thank you, Nigella!

    Posted by RobyH on 14th December 2017
  • I make this cake every year and all the family just love it's depth of scented chocolate! Thank you Nigella.

    Posted by jtimmins on 9th December 2017
  • I've made this cake as my Christmas cake for the last four years now. I never make any other as I haven't been able to better it ! It is amazing with an espresso. I make it as a Christmas present for my best friend and she loves it so much she hides it from her family! LOL and thanks Nigella for this wonderful recipe .

    Oh PS . I ice this cake. :)

    Posted by Anita102 on 20th November 2016
  • I made this last Christmas and it was a real hit, I substituted the prunes for dried cranberries and used Cointreau instead of coffee liqueur and decorated it with gold spray, gold balls and stars and a red ribbon. My family thought it was shop bought! Defo doing it again this year!

    Posted by HellyJ on 22nd October 2016
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