Chef's Recipes

An Italian Christmas cake

Put your stamp on this classic dessert by switching out the nut and fruit varieties.

By Nadine Ingram
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 50 mins cooking (plus soaking, cooling)
  • Serves 10 - 12
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"Every year I make this cake for all those friends of mine who don't like traditional Christmas cake," says Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone. "Ruth Rogers from The River Café grew up in England although her mother, who was Italian, used to make this cake every year after she moved from Italy to live in England. This is one of the many versions I have made at Flour and Stone, but feel free to make it your own by changing the fruit or nut varieties. Just remember to keep the quantities the same. It's also important to note that when making any cake, the ingredients, particularly the eggs and butter, should be at room temperature." Begin this recipe a day ahead to soak the fruit.

Ingredients

  • 100 gm raisins
  • 100 gm (about 7) dried figs, coarsely chopped
  • 125 ml golden rum
  • 375 gm dark chocolate (58%-60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 100 gm roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
  • 100 gm roasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 50 gm candied orange peel, finely chopped
  • 125 gm very soft unsalted butter
  • 125 gm brown sugar
  • 75 gm caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100 gm honey
  • 125 gm plain flour, sifted
  • Gold leaf (optional; see note), to decorate

Method

  • 1
    Combine raisins and figs in a bowl, pour in rum, cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature overnight to soak.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 22cm-diameter cake tin and line with baking paper. Combine chocolate, nuts and orange peel in a large bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula and beat briefly to ensure everything is well combined. Add egg a little at a time, beating between additions and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until incorporated. Fold in nut mixture, soaked fruit and rum, lemon zest and honey, then add flour and fold to combine well.
  • 3
    Pour batter into prepared tin, smooth top, and bake until golden and centre of cake springs back when lightly pressed (40-50 minutes; it may feel slightly undercooked, but the chocolate will firm up as the cake cools.
  • 4
    Cool in tin then turn out and cool completely. Decorate with gold leaf. Cake will keep in an airtight container for 5 weeks.

Notes

Gold leaf is available from specialist kitchen and cake suppliers, and at essentialingredient.com.au

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  • Author: Nadine Ingram