• Sarah Rainey

Speedy Christmas cake


STILL haven't got round to making your Christmas cake? With four days to go? FEAR NOT! HELP IS AT HAND!

You can whizz this one up in a matter of hours - and I guarantee it'll taste better than any shop-bought tat you might be tempted to pick up in the supermarket this weekend.

Rich, spiced and packed full of juicy raisins, cherries and peel, my take on this festive classic is super simple, using chocolate-flavoured milk to soak the fruits overnight, giving a moist, heady sponge, laden with plump festive treats and plenty of flavour.

You'll love it. Your family will love it. Even Grumpy Uncle Alan will ask for second helpings.

So what are you waiting for...? Merry Christmas all - and Happy Baking!

Serves 12

Ingredients:

530g mixed dried fruit (I use one containing peel, glacé cherries, sultanas, raisins and cranberries)

500ml chocolate milk

175g self-raising flour

You'll need: Medium round cake tin (23cm across)

Method:

Start preparing this cake at least 12 hours before you want to eat it.

Put the dried fruit and chocolate milk in a bowl, cover in cling film and leave them for as long as possible so the fruits absorb the liquid and become plump and juicy. You’ll know it’s ready when the milk thickens and the fruit swells to the top of the liquid.

Grease and line the cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160C.

When the fruit is ready, sift in the flour and stir until fully combined.

Pour into the prepared tin, bang on a table a couple of times to get rid of any air bubbles and smooth out the top using a palette knife.

Bake for approx two hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack.

It won’t keep as long as traditional Christmas cake, but it will last a couple of weeks sealed in a tin. Tastes great with a dollop of brandy cream!

TIP: Try other flavours of milk (such as coffee or banana) or orange juice to give a lighter sponge. And if you miss that layer of white fondant on top, sift icing sugar over some Christmassy stencils – stars, snowflakes or trees – for a seasonal snowy finish

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Content © Sarah Rainey

Photos © Clare Winfield, Alex Luck & Al Richardson

Styling © Emma Lahaye, Octavia Squire, Laurie Perry & Sarah Rainey

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