Yesterday was a real November day. You know, one of those picture book style, 'fog didn't lift all day', grey, damp and cold London days. I could see cold drops of water hanging heavy from bare tree branches and the air was distinctively wintery. It's the kind of weather that can be hard to tolerate at times, especially when it drags on for weeks on end. It's also the kind of weather though that can make me smile quietly, look out the window for a while whilst holding a steaming cup of coffee, turn off the music and just be. There's something quiet about it that I like. Not as quiet as a snow day, so maybe subdued would be a better word. There is a part of me that truly enjoys this greyness. It's the introvert in me who is more at ease in the quietness of her own home than in big groups.
As grey days go then, yesterday was a good one. A good day is one where I feel I have been productive and I have created something. I did some work in the morning before popping out to get some pine twigs and then baking this cake. I drank coffee, took photos and ate cake. It was one of those days that felt easy and just flowed and this is the result.
You will need the following ingredients:
For the cake:
- 300g plain flour
- 320g dark muscovado sugar
- 200g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 4 large eggs
- 6 tbsp soured cream
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tsp ground mixed spice
- 125ml rum
- 150g dark chocolate
- extra butter for greasing the baking tins
For the cranberries:
- 400g fresh cranberries
- zest and juice of one orange
- 200g sugar
For the buttercream:
- 300g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 100g salted butter (room temperature)
- 600g icing sugar
- 1 tsp orange extract
For the topping:
- 200g fresh cranberries
- 50ml water
- 100g sugar
- sugar to dust the cranberries
And here's how it's done. You should start the cranberries (filling and topping) a day ahead to give them time to set and cool completely over night. Also, you will need three 20cm baking pans.
- Preheat your oven to 200C
- Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spices in a large bowl.
- In a mixer, whisk the sugar and butter together until creamy.
- Add the eggs one by one whilst continuously whisking.
- Now add a tablespoon of the flour mix, followed by a tablespoon of the soured cream whilst mixing.
- Continue adding one spoon of flour, then one spoon of cream etc. and mix.
- Pour in the remaining flour and keep mixing until smooth.
- Next, in a small saucepan, warm up the rum. Do not boil.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add to the rum.
- Stir until dissolved.
- Now pour the rum and chocolate mix into the batter and fold in.
- Grease and lightly flour the tins, then distribute the batter evenly.
- Bake for 25 minutes
To make the cranberry filling you will need to do the following:
- Put 300g of the cranberries into a saucepan.
- Add the sugar, orange zest and orange juice.
- Now heat it all up, bring to a short boil until the cranberries just start to pop.
- Add the remaining 100g of cranberries, stir in and take the pan off the heat.
- Leave to cool down, then transfer to a clean bowl, cover and put into the fridge over night.
To make the cranberries for the topping:
- Heat up the water and sugar in a pan but do NOT boil.
- Add the cranberries and stir for a moment - this time, don't let them pop!
- Now tip the cranberries onto a large plate with sugar and dust with more sugar.
- Put into the fridge to cool over night.
For the buttercream:
- Mix together the butter and icing sugar.
- Add the teaspoon of orange extract and mix until light and creamy.
All that's left to do now is to assemble the cake and enjoy a large slice on the first Advent weekend coming up. If you know people who don't like the traditional Christmas cake, then I think this is a winner. I should mention that I have adapted a Nigella Lawson cupcake recipe to make this cake, added rum, changed measurements and obviously added my own fillings and buttercream.