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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.

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.

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 mixed 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/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/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.

Tell us what you think

What 21 Others have said

  • I've made a couple of these two years in a row for Christmas and this recipe never fails to delight and impress. Indeed one cake which travelled to Germany made an individual upon tasting cry with joy! Need I say more?

    Posted by Sir Randall on 5th May 2016
  • Yummy, delicious, outrageous what can I say. We love this absolutely fabulous chocolate fruit cake.

    Posted by lebasheer on 2nd February 2016
  • To the person who was looking for wooden cake baking boxes, they are available mail order from this company, http://www.woodencakebox.co.nz/prices_region%20list.html Timber insulates well so the possibility of scorching is minimised.

    Posted by OzPolly on 31st December 2015
  • I make this cake every Christmas, one for us and one for my husband's friend in Germany. It's such a delicious cake and has always gone down a treat with family and friends. I usually give it the 'Rocky Road decoration', ie sieved icing sugar and reindeer! And of course edible white glitter!

    Posted by Akita on 30th May 2015
  • Like so many people, I worked right up to Christmas Eve. Ambitiously (foolishly?) I attempted not one, but two cakes to take to the family; this and the Christmas Spiced Chocolate Cake. I made this ahead and three days later on Christmas afternoon, unwrapped from layers of foil, it was everything I had hoped for. Rich, inviting and quietly festive...thank you Nigella for making anything possible!

    Posted by Mrs. Smits on 3rd January 2015
  • Made it for the second time after my first attempt got a little overdone due to I think the strength of my oven. The second effort was great and I can't wait to share it today, Christmas Day, with my family. Thanks Nigella, I can't wait to try baking another baking recipe soon. Tip: My cake took less than a hour to cook possibly as my electric oven is fan assisted.

    Posted by Sir Randall on 25th December 2014
  • Made this cake 2 days ago and all I have left are crumbs. Simple to make n easy to eat. Thanks Nigella

    Posted by Ini on 28th December 2014
  • Just made this wonderful chocolate Christmas cake for the first time! Am intrigued by the person who said they used a wooden cake box, where can I purchase one? Have looked online to no success.

    Posted by Ecl3711 on 24th December 2014
  • This really is a cake loved by people who don't normally like fruitcake! I've been making this for four years and now it has become tradition. As we have lots of family get togethers through the holidays, I make these in cupcake tins with silver linings. I make an almond-flavoured rolled buttercream icing, then cut it into circles and adorn each mini fruitcake.

    Posted by DancingDaisies on 14th December 2014
  • Works beautifully with proprietary gluten free plain flour mix as well.

    Posted by glutenfreekate on 11th November 2014
  • Hi Nigella, I'm a huge fan and first saw your show on TLC.  This cake was the first ever recipe I tried and I was instantly proclaimed an expert baker!!  My friends have been asking me to make this cake all over again for this christmas! I've made your triple chocolate brownies and the lemon polenta cake!!  Everything I made by following your recipe has never once failed me!!!!!  I can't thank you enough for being you!! You are my Idol!!! I really wish u all the happiness, success and love!!! God bless You!!

    Posted by Rashmimasih on 26th October 2014
  • I am making this again for Christmas it is so easy and wonderful. So rich and indulgent I love it and so do all my friends and family a real winner. Keep think of more yummy treats love all your meal ideas bliss.

    Posted by on 21st September 2014
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