For a great alternative to the traditional English crumb, try Eric Lanlard's Chocolate and Orange Christmas Cake. This is still packed full of luscious dried fruits and festive spices, but benefits from the delicious addition of orange liqueur and rich dark chocolate.
Put raisins into bowl and cover with orange liqueur. Cover the bowl and set aside for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Grease and line a 22cm spring form cake tin.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture looks like it is going to split, add a small amount of flour.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water and add it to butter, sugar and egg mixture. Sift in the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir. Add lemon juice and orange liqueur, and mix together.
Gently fold in the soaked raisins, sultanas, peel, cherries, walnuts and hazelnuts. Spoon the mix into your greased and lined spring form cake tin.
Bake the cake for 2 and a half to 3 hours, depending on your oven. Test whether cakes are cooked with a skewer - if it comes out clean the cake is done. Cool on a wire rack, then spray with more alcohol and wrap in cling film until ready to decorate.
Decorate the top with fruits and nuts. Warm apricot gelee and, using a pastry brush, glaze fruits and nuts. Add chocolate fans and highlight with a gold leaf.
Ingredients – 17 items
For the Cake
plus extra for soaking
Tate & Lyle’s Pure Cane Dark Brown Soft Sugar
good-quality & high cocoa content
Ground mixed spice
For the Decoration
Mixed glace fruits
orange slices, apricot, cherries, etc
walnuts, pecans, peeled pistachios
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