Coffee Fruit Cake ~ No Alcohol, Last Minute Christmas Cake

It's that time of the year when it gets busier every day and you are trying to fit in things at the last minute. Falling sick at this time is something you just cannot afford and that's exactly what happened to me today. Down with a bout of sneezing and the works - all thanks to endless hours of shopping in the open air last night at the Global Village. It was great hanging out with the girls in my family and we ended up buying a lot of stuff - happiness is just this!

Last week I made this cake twice and I was pretty happy with the results. It is a different kind of a cake that takes little time to put together and the result is perfect. A moist, flavourful and aromatic cake that can give tough competition to its boozy counterparts. The only effort required here is in chopping the fruits into small bits. 

When I made this cake for a children's Christmas party last week my aunt was amazed that it was such a simple recipe. If you think that this cake reeks of the smell of coffee, you are mistaken. Amazingly, the coffee in this cake just leaves delicate notes of flavour and not much of its aroma. You can add some rum to the cake batter if you wish or perhaps feed some rum once it is out of the oven (simply pour some over it or poke holes with a toothpick and drizzle some rum once a day till you are ready to cut it) 

Your cake will taste as good as the ingredients you use, so make sure you use fresh and good quality dry fruits. Make this cake upto 2 days in advance if you don't intend cutting it immediately. However, since the cake does not have alcohol in it it may not keep for too long (like more than 3-4 days) - so make it fresh and enjoy it this Christmas and the festive season! 

I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and happy holidays! May the love and peace of our dear Lord Jesus warm your hearts and homes!! Wishing you happy times ahead!

Coffee Fruit Cake
1. Put the chopped dried fruit, sugar, butter and coffee in a large saucepan and simmer on a low heat till the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove and leave to cool for about 30-40 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4. Grease a 10x5 inch loaf tin (or a 900 grams/2 lb loaf tin) and line the base and sides with baking parchment. 
3. In a large bowl sift together the flour and the mixed spice and make a well in the centre. Pour in the beaten egg and the fruit and coffee mixture and mix well until combined. If the mixture looks stiff add milk in parts and mix until you get a slightly loose, but not runny batter * see notes before you proceed.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for approx 1 hour or till done (after 45 mins into the baking time cover the tin with aluminium foil to prevent it from browning too fast and turning dry). If the skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 mins after which turn it out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
5. Use a serrated/bread knife)to cut and serve with butter if desired. This cake keeps well for 3-4 days at room temperature when stored in an airtight container.

1. I generally like to use all kinds of dried fruit except dates and figs for my xmas cakes. In my personal opinion dates are too sweet and figs have a seeds, the crunch of which I don't prefer. But it is totally your call on what you like to use. I always try to use prunes, dried cranberries, candied ginger, glazed cherries, sultanas or golden raisins, black currants (black raisins), dried mango, dried papaya, dried pineapple, dried strawberries and dried apricot - all depending on availability.
2. While chopping dry fruits to make your work easier use a chef's knife with a wooden handle and hold the tip of the knife and go in a chop-chop-chop motion. Try to chop fruits that are similar in size first. Keep prunes and squishy fruit for last or else it will make your working surface and the blade of the knife all sticky and messy.
3. I used about 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules (Bru or Nescafe) in 200 ml of water of boiling water and simmered it for about 1 minute. 
4. You can make your own self raising flour by mixing plain flour, baking powder and salt. For this recipe I made my own self raising flour by adding 4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the bowl on the weighing scale and then adding plain flour (maida) to the same bowl to measure out a total of 280 grams. 
5. When I first made this cake I found that it was a little crumbly and dry so for the next two batches I added milk to the batter that resulted in beautifully moist cakes. If you desire you can add upto 1/2 cup of milk or even single cream if you prefer. 
6. Mixed spice is a blend of spices such as cinnamon, dried ginger, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, coriander. I used this recipe to make the mixed spice: 

1 teaspoon each of all spice powder (see note#7)
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed powder
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon mace powder (also called as javitri - it is the outer covering of the nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon clove powder

7. All-spice is a type of spice that looks like peppercorns and smells like a mix of all spices put together which is why it is called as all-spice. It is a very expensive spice that is hard to find in supermarkets in Dubai. I found my all spice for about 30 AED. It is perhaps easier to find in India as it is grown on the coastal belt in South India.

Recipe adapted from: Coffee, 100 Everyday Recipes

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