Winter fruit cake is spicy, fruity, and moist. A generous amount of plump fruit and chunky nuts doesn’t overwhelm this rich cake, which is topped with a layer of marzipan and a snowy white fondant, and decorated with fondant trees. Serve with a glass of port, a cup of tea or coffee, and a couple of slices of hard cheese.
500 mL (2 cups) Thompson seedless raisins
500 mL (2 cups) sultana raisins
250 mL (1 cup) deluxe mixed dried fruit (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries)
175 mL (3/4 cup) walnuts
175 mL (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour, plus 25 mL (2 tbsp) for dusting fruit
1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
1 mL (1/4 tsp) baking soda
3 mL (3/4 tsp) each of cinnamon and allspice
1 mL (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
175 mL (3/4 cup) shortening, room temperature
175 mL (3/4 cup) brown sugar, packed
75 mL (1/3 cup) molasses
Zest of half an organic orange
25 mL (2 tbsp) apricot jam
300 g (10 oz) marzipan
680 g (1 lb 8 oz) box rolled fondant
Line one 20 cm x 9.5 cm (7- x 3- 1/2-inch) deep round cake pan with greased brown paper.
Place dried fruit and nuts in a medium-size bowl and dust with 25 mL (2 tbsp) of flour. Stir remaining flour, salt, baking soda and spices together and set aside.
Cream shortening and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add molasses, and orange zest, and mix well. Blend in dry ingredients and fold in fruit and nut mixture.
Pour batter into a prepared pan to 3/4 full. Bake cake in a slow oven 150º C (300º F) for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven during baking, and remove during the last hour.
Cool cake before removing the paper, then re-wrap the cake and store it in an airtight container in a cool place for a day or two.
Heat the apricot jam and brush on top of the cake. Roll out marzipan on a surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar until the size of the top of the cake. Cut out the marzipan and place on top of the cake. Cover the sides and bottom of the cake with plastic wrap to keep the cake from drying out while the marzipan on top dries.
Roll out the fondant according to the package instructions and place on top of the cake. Use the leftover fondant trimmed from the cake for the trees. Colour the leftover fondant with green food colouring paste. Roll into three balls approximately 6 to 8 cm (2 1/2 to 3 inches) in diameter and shape into cones.
Use a small pair of clean sewing scissors with curved ends and make small snips all around the cones to look like leaves on a tree. Place cone trees on top of the fondant-covered cake. Use leftover pieces of white fondant as piles of snow in front of the trees. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
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