I got back from my 10-day holiday/ family reunion in Australia a couple of days ago and I'm still shattered- but that won't stop me from baking! Everywhere you go in Oz and the UK alike there are Christmas trees, decorations, carols and Christmas pop music- even our aeroplane cabins on the journey home were decked with faux pine garlands and red ribbons- and I came home ready to make something vaguely Christmassy.
This isn't really 100% my recipe, rather an adaptation of Nigella Lawson's snow-topped spice cake recipe from her book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' (but then again aren't all recipes, like music, based on pre-existing models?) The changes I made were to suit my tastes, or because I thought some things were unecessary/ didn't add anything to the end result, or because I found there was a stage that did add to the end result.
It's light, fluffy and moist thanks to whipped egg whites and oil instead of butter, and aromatic without being overpowering. Nigella touts it as 'the perfect replacement for the standard Christmas cake' for those none-too-keen on the dense and often dry fruited versions.
Ingredients for Cake:
- 5 eggs, separated
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 125ml water
- 1tsp golden syrup
- 1tbsp black treacle
- 240g dark muscavado sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 + 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1tsp nutmeg
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- zest of 1/2 a big orange
- 75g caster sugar
To Decorate (optional):
- thick royal icing
- icing sugar
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and grease a 10" bundt pan well.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and oil, then whisk in the water, syrups and muscavado sugar (but NOT the caster sugar).
3) Pass the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any little rock-hard lumps of muscavado sugar, and put it back into the large bowl.
4) Stir in the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and zest, mixing thoroughly (don't worry about being too rough at this stage).
5) Whip up the egg whites in another large bowl until white, stiff and fluffy (you should be able to tip the bowl upside-down over your head and stay clean), then whisk in the caster sugar- the mixture will turn glossy but still be white and fluffy- like marshmallow fluff.
6) Take a large tablespoonfull of the egg whites and beat it into your spice batter to help loosen it up, and then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, using cutting and scooping motions. You don't want to be rough at this stage as you want to avoid beating the air bubbles out.
7) Fill your bundt tin until about 3/4 full with your cake batter (use the leftover batter to make little cupcakes- but don't be tempted to fill your bundt pan any more of it'll overflow when it rises during baking: I've learnt this the hard way) and bake for 45 minutes, until the cake springs back when you poke it. Cupcakes will only take about 20mins.
8) Take your cake out of the oven to cool thoroughly- let it be for 25 minutes before tipping it out of the pan. It'll shrink back down a bit, but this is normal.
9) Once it's completely cold, if you like you can ice it with royal icing: make sure it's thick though, or the spongy cake will just suck it up.
10) Decorate as you like. I've used white crystal sugar, silver dragées and edible glitter. Because it's Christmas and it's okay to be a little gaudy.