Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Festive Goodies 3: Quick Christmas Cake Bars

So what if Christmas has gone;  who says you can't have this yummy fruit cake any time?
We seem to have had an unplanned fortnight off blogging; sorry about that- but no doubt you guys have all been busy too. We'd like to take this opportunity to say hope you all had a great festive season, those of you who were celebrating, and to wish all our readers and awesome fellow food bloggers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.
This is a light vegan Christmas cake. Light in colour, that is- certainly no lighter in calories. (If you like it dark, then simply use a soft dark brown sugar such as muscovado. The cake is easy to make and doesn't take as long as traditional recipes; yet it still has that rich texture and those traditional fruity, spicy flavours. If your Christmas preparations are often last-minute (like mine always seem to be) then this could be just the thing for next year. Or tomorrow. Or now. Baking the cake in a shallow rectangular mould means that it takes less time to cook and the cake can then be decorated and served in small bars rather than huge wedges that no one can finish. We found the cake was plenty moist enough, but if you have time you could always soak the dried fruit beforehand in juice or fruit herbal tea. (You might have to adjust the cooking time though.)

300g dried mixed fruit (to include candied citrus peel)
25g sultanas
100g glace cherries, halved
50g dried figs, chopped
50g flaked almonds
200g wholemeal plain flour
2 rounded tsps mixed spice
3 tsps baking powder
150g soft light brown sugar
4 flax eggs (one flax egg is 1 tab ground flax seeds to 3 tabs water, beaten like egg)
100ml warm water
To decorate:
marzipan and icing sugar (if you're in the UK use Silver Spoon white as it's beet sugar and  not bone char filtered, or Billington's unrefined icing sugar for a beige colour) I bought packet marzipan for convenience but if you have time it's worth making your own. We have a recipe here.

  • Preheat your oven to 180C and prepare a shallow rectangular cake mould.
    (The one I used is a 22 x 18 x 6.5cm silicone from Aldi.)
  • Prepare the fruit.
  • Mix all the ingredients apart from the flax eggs and the water in a large bowl.
  • When they are thoroughly combined, beat in the flax eggs, and lastly the warm water.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven. Test with a thin skewer to see if it's done: a cooked cake will not leave batter on the skewer when you push it into the centre of the cake.
  • When cool, roll out the marzipan then top with a thin layer of icing (made with icing sugar and a small amount of water or lemon juice so that it is a thick, spreadable paste).
  • When the icing has set, cut into rectangular bars as needed. To keep the cake moist, don't cut until you are about to serve.