This is our version of a decadent Christmas fruit cake, perfumed with arak and full of all kinds of dried fruits and nuts.
We first developed the recipe for this cake in preparation for our winter market last year. We focused on a few simple ingredients that worked well with the aniseed-y aroma of arak; prunes, walnuts and raisins. This yielded a moist, light purple sponge cake dotted with the dried fruits and nuts. It was our first attempt at this kind of Christmas cake and it did the job quite well.
This year, with our newfound focus on home cooking, we’ve reworked the recipe for a much richer and more loaded cake. In addition to prunes and raisins, we’ve added dates and dried figs. We’ve also upped the nuts fourfold, adding almonds, pistachios and pecans. It may seem like a lot, it is and that’s the point.
Other than the wide variety of ingredients, the method for making this cake is very straightforward. Feel free to play around with the ingredients to your taste and depending on what you have on hand. You can simplify by omitting one or several of the dried fruits or nuts, just make sure that the total quantity of each stays the same.
This is a holiday indulgence worth making any time of year. Glorious with coffee or tea in the morning, and a wonderful gift for friends and family. Stored in an airtight container, this will keep for several weeks in the fridge.
1 stick (100G) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing cake tin
¼ cup (70G) granulated sugar
¼ cup (30G) dark brown sugar
1 heaping cup (225G) Mejdoul dates, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup (100G) prunes, roughly chopped
½ cup (100G) dried figs, roughly chopped
¼ cup (50G) brown raisins
¼ cup (50G) golden raisins
⅓ cup Arak
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon rose water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (115G) walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup (70G) pecans, roughly chopped
½ cup (70G) almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup (70G) pistachios, roughly chopped
1 - 2 tablespoons white corn syrup
Preheat the oven to 140C and generously grease a bundt pan or other round cake tin.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter has completely melted and is beginning to foam, add the granulated and brown sugar, whisk together until well combined. Add the dates, prunes, figs and raisins and mix with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated with the butter and sugar. Add the arak and orange zest, mix well and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow the mixture to cool.
In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and rose water until pale and uniform in color. Add to the fruit mixture (when it is cool to the touch), and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the fruit mixture just until no dry flour remains. Fold in the nuts just until they are evenly spread.
Transfer to the greased cake tin and bake in the oven for an hour and a half, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the cake tin.
Remove from the cake tin and onto a cooling rack. Lightly brush all over with white corn syrup. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.