For many of us, The festive season is time to reconnect with loved ones, recharge and feast for days, at my household Christmas is a three day affair with a European style Christmas Eve dinner that entails a stuffed turkey, all kinds of roasts and glazed ham spaced between intervals of Christmas Carols sang around a grand piano, followed by a relaxed Christmas Day lunch under the pergola indulging on Lebanese meze and staples like Kifta and Kebeh and ends on Boxing Day with leftover turkey sandwiches and salads.
One thing that remains constant over the year in our Christmas rituals is the number of sweets consumed and bought from sugared almonds, panettone, mince pies, and our beloved Christmas cakes.
Usually I buy my Christmas cake from Jason’s Bakery that does an amazing six months matured cake that is drowned in brandy, although this year I have decided to try out a recipe from back home -in Jordan- where the tradition is to bake the fruitcake on the 24th of November and mature it for a month over Cognac.
The recipe is easy to bake and should take about an hour and a half from start to finish and is a great way to get young ones excited about the festive season.
Gluten Free Spiced Christmas Cake
250g pitted dates, roughly chopped
100g dried Turkish figs, roughly chopped
100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Grated rind of 1 lemon
100g gluten free cake flour
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Maca powder
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 teaspoon fenugreek powder
3 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon dried mint powdered
360g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 vanilla pod scrapped
4 cardamon pods
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cups of mixed dried fruits ( I use pears, cherries, oranges lemons and plums the colorful the better)
Edible dried rosebuds
4 tablespoons of premium Cognac
1. Preheat oven to 150C. Grease and line a 25x10cm loaf tin. ( I use tahini to grease my baking tins a Middleastern trick I have learned from my mom)
2. Place all dried fruits, nuts, lemon rinds in a bowl. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt, Maca powder and 140g of sugar. Beat eggs and vanilla well and add to fruit and mix well.
3. Pour in greased pan and bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted into the center comes clean. Turn into rack and cool to room temperature.
4. Boil one cup of water and soak the fenugreek seeds and cardamon for 10mins, Place the remaining 220g of sugar in a pan with the soaked water and stir over low heat until dissolved. Increase heat to high and boil for 10 mins or until thick, then add a teaspoon of lemon juice.
5. Drizzle some syrup over the dried mixed fruits.
6. Once cake has cooled, pour cognac one tablespoon at a time, wait for the cake to absorb before pouring the next tablespoon, you can do this over 3 weeks pouring one tablespoon at a time, once cake is ready to be served pour some of the syrup and let it sit for a bit, then pile the fruits and drench with syrup.
Serve with dessert wine, brandy or cherry.
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