Christmas. It’s all about carols, selection boxes and Mary Poppins, no?
No. It’s all about reverting to type. And what I mean by that is regressing to your inner child and channelling the family caricature from your youth.
So who are you? The sensible eldest sibling? Then remember to police every situation heavily. Ensure the table plan is agreed in advance, play banker in Monopoly to avoid any unsavoury stealing and sigh at those relatives who drink a little too much sherry by the beginning of the EastEnders theme tune.
Or are you the middle child? Then of course you’ll be seeing life through your own distorted lens. You’ll notice that you are served the smallest portion of Christmas pudding, that your stocking was just a little bit less stuffed and that everyone laughs less at your cracker joke. That’s if Mum remembered to lay a place for you at the table. So easily forgotten, you middle children.
Spoilt youngest? You know the drill. If things don’t go your way just bat your eye lashes; you are the favourite after all. And if you did happen to have a drink too many on Christmas eve, just go and have a little snooze after lunch and let someone else clear up and listen to Great Auntie’s tales of the war. It’s more important that Mummy’s little soldier is well rested.
And as I’m an only child and I love all things coconut and am partial to a rum and coke, well, that’s exactly what I’m making. A tropical Christmas cake. I hope you like it, but being an only, I don’t really care. It’s all about me. And yes, it does have Coca Cola in it. I promise you’ll like it. And coconut royal icing! I know. Game changer.
This takes 4 days to make properly. You could speed up the soaking stage by gently heating the fruit and booze in a pan. Come on… let’s get started.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available exclusively in Iceland stores and through their website) which is just £2.99 at the mo! And no, the recipes are not just about frozen food. Every recipe has instructions of how to make with chilled ingredients too.
Last December: Two minute marinade for chicken and Melted snowman biscuits and Egg nog truffles and Chocolate biscuit Christmas pudding and Drunken Amaretto mince pies and Cheese concertina loaf and Hot chocolate on a stick and Sausage, sage and squash lasagne and Chocolate hazelnut granola and Orange and cranberry loaf and Chocolate ganache tart.
Tropical Trashy Christmas Cake
For the cake:
- 150ml Coca Cola (full fat, the Diet stuff will not do)
- 90mls Malibu
- 135g dried mango, cut into 1cm pieces
- 175g dried pineapple, cut into 1cm pieces
- 150g dried apricots, cut into 1cm pieces
- 260g glace cherries
- 50g glace ginger, finely chopped
- 500g raisins
- 230g self-raising flour
- 90g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Zest of 2 limes
- 80g dark muscovado sugar
- 145g castor sugar
- 225g butter
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
For the marzipan layer:
- 4 tbsp lime marmalade
- 2 tbsp icing sugar for rolling
- 675g marzipan
For the icing:
- 3 large egg whites
- 600g icing sugar
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1.5 tsp liquid glycerine (available in larger supermarkets in the baking aisle – this stops the icing drying rock hard)
- 150g desiccated coconut
Day 1: Place the prepared dried fruit (mango, pineapple, apricots, cherries, ginger and raisins) into a large bowl and add the Coca-Cola and Malibu. Give it a good stir and cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place. (Not the fridge though.) The fruit will soak up the liquid. You can stir occasionally if you wish.
Day 2: On the day of baking, butter a 23cm round cake tin and then line both the bottom and the sides with baking paper making sure the paper peaks over the top by about 5cm. Wrap the tin on the outside in a double layer of baking paper (using string or staples to hold it in place) to make it completely burn proof. Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2.
Beat together the flour, almonds, spices, lime zest, sugars, butter and eggs with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and creamy. Take half of the boozy soaked fruit and purée it in a food processor/liquidiser then add to the beaten mixture. Beat again and stir through the rest of the fruit that’s still whole. Spoon into the cake tin, level the top using the back of a spoon and bake in the centre of the oven for 90 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 140°C/Gas Mark 1 and bake for a further 1 hour 15 minutes.
Check the cake by plunging a skewer (or thin knife if you don’t happen to have one) into the middle and checking for uncooked cake mixture. If it is clean, it’s baked through, so take it out and cool on a wire rack. If not, return to the oven for a further 20 minutes and check again. (Remember, few ovens bake at the temperature they say, so unless you have an oven thermometer you’ll need to use this skewer test).
Once the cake has completely cooled push the marmalade through a sieve to remove any rind, and then warm in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Place the cake on the board or stand you wish to display it on and brush the marmalade over the cake, including the sides. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll the marzipan out to a circle of about 35cm. Lay your hands under the marzipan, fingers outstretched and palms upwards and move it over the cake. Press the marzipan down over the top first and then use your hands to smooth it down the sides. Use a knife to trim the bottom and push the ends under the cake. Leave to dry, loosely covered with baking paper, for 48 hours.
Day 4: To make the icing, beat the egg whites until starting to foam (preferably using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment), then add 400g of the icing sugar and whisk at high speed until it becomes thick and glossy. Add the lime juice, glycerine, the rest of the icing sugar and the coconut, then beat again until the mixture forms soft peaks. You must keep beating until the icing no longer runs down the side of the bowl, otherwise it isn’t thick enough to ‘hold’ when spread over the cake.
Use a table or palate knife to spread over the cake, starting on the top and easing it down over the sides. Don’t leave the icing hanging around as it’ll set too hard to spread. Leave to set at room temperature for 24 hours and once hard, cover until ready to serve.
NB: Contains raw egg whites, not to be consumed by the very young, pregnant, elderly or those with a weakened immune system. As an alternative, you can make royal icing using specialist royal icing sugar which has powdered pasteurised egg white in.
This recipe first appeared in Back to School magazine.
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