I. Love. Fruitcake.
This year, for my Christmas cake, I tried Nigella's marzipan fruit cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess. At first, I was going to make the gorgeously golden fruit cake from Nigella Christmas, but it seemed like that one would be too fruity and not cakey enough. The marzipan fruit cake, on the other hand, seemed sufficiently cakey, and has the added bonus of containing delicious marzipan. Nigella also described it as her favourite fruit cake in the whole world. Sold!
A little bit of pre-preparation is required, but this isn't too strenuous. Just stir the dried pears, sultanas and glace cherries together (the pears and cherries need to be chopped up), pour some white rum over (Bacardi for choice), and let soak overnight. You also have to chop up the marzipan and stick in the freezer overnight.
The next day, you make up the cake mixture, which contains some ground almonds and orange flower water, then stir in the prepared fruits and marzipan.
The batter was very stiff, and as you can see, I wasn't able to get a very smooth surface.
Once it's baked, Nigella instructs you to feed the cake with more rum, then wrap it up in greaseproof paper and foil for about a week. Never having made a proper ye olde fruit cake before, I was a bit nervous that this might dry the cake out or leave it stale and feral. How wrong I was! It stays super-moist.
After seeing Nigella's "dramatically pretty" white iced Christmas cakes in Nigella Christmas, I honestly considered decorating my Christmas cake in the traditional way, marzipan'ed and enrobed in white icing. But then I thought, "Why ruin a perfectly good cake?", and left it plain. I don't know anyone who actually enjoys the white crusty sugar icing they put on fruit cakes - I certainly don't. Urgh.
Here is the cake, after one week's maturing...
When I unveiled the cake, we sat around and had thick slices with tea. At first, I was quite disappointed - it just tasted too sweet, and I didn't enjoy that first slice at all. However, let me tell you, the cake gets better and better with time. We polished off the whole thing in about 4 days. Oops.
It's best enjoyed in tiny little slivers, cut off from the cake whenever you feel like a sweet treat. As I mentioned, the cake is wonderfully moist, and the graininess of the dried pears and marzipan is just magic.
For next time, I'll definitely decrease the sugar content, and grate the marzipan rather than chopping it up, so that it combines more smoothly into the cake batter. I also think fruit cakes look nicer if they're tall and majestic, rather than flat, so next time I'll do it in an 18cm tin, rather than the 20cm tin that Nigella suggests.