Years ago, when my new sister in law Angela arrived in New Zealand it must have felt really strange for her to have a winterless Christmas. She brought with her a love of traditional British Christmas fare, including of course the cake!
She baked a new recipe which she found in a newspaper column in the eighties. It had a foot in both cultures. Alongside the traditional sultanas and nuts there were tropical dried fruits including pineapple and pawpaw. It made a nice culinary statement about where she had come from and where she had recently settled. You could call it a Pacifika Christmas cake.
For this cake you don’t soak the fruit before baking but toss it in the flour which no doubt prevents it from sinking to the bottom. It’s laden with fruit and nuts. No spices but the mixture of 4 essences gives it a subtle and complex flavour. To bake it at that time she would have used greaseproof paper, but I’d use baking paper. No need to grease and so easy to use. But it’s still important to use a double layer of it to prevent a charred bottom.
She made it again three decades later to welcome her daughters who will be home from America and Brussels for Christmas this year.
Angela's Pacifica Christmas Cake
- ½ cup of mixed peel
- ½ cup of dried pineapple
- ¼ cup of dried pawpaw
- ¼ cup of dried pear
- ½ cup of dried brazil nuts
- ½ cup of hazelnuts
- ½ cup of almonds
- 1 ½ cups of sultanas
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- 100 gm of butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup of sherry
- ½ tspn each of orange, vanilla. almond and lemon essence.
- Prepare a 20 cm ring tin . Line the bottom and sides with a double layer of paper and grease it well.
- Cut the fruit into large pieces. Coursely chop the nuts. Place together with sultanas into a mixing bowl..
- Sift the flour into the mixture making sure its completely coated. Cream butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour in the sherry, orange, lemon , vanilla and almond essence. Mix well.
- Fold the fruit and nuts into the creamed mixture. Press into the prepared tin.
- Bake at 130 degrees C for 2 hours.
- Lower temperature to 100 degrees C.
- Cook for a further 15-30 minutes until the cake is set.