I found this recipe for an Italian Christmas Cake in Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald two Christmas' ago. Dates and currants are probably my favourite dried fruit so I had to try it. The cake has no spices in it but the dried fruits and alcohol still make it smell like Christmas Cake. The cake is delicious and moist and keeps for weeks, I am still enjoying this years with my cup of tea!
Date, Hazelnut and Currant Christmas Cake
I have made this in a regular round cake tin with a hole and a bundt tin, both work well. I have also made it in a regular tin but the middle sank, it is a very moist cake so hard to cook through. But whatever you do don't overcook it!
85g pitted dates, roughly chopped
100g roasted hazelnuts, roughly blitzed in the food processor
50ml marsala (plus about 1/4 cup extra)
165g soft unsalted butter
150g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 C almond meal
4 tsp baking
Preheat oven to 170C.
Place dates, currants and hazelnuts in a bowl and pour in the marsala. Toss to combine and let stand for a few hours, preferably overnight. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, almond meal and baking powder in another bowl and stir with a whisk to remove any lumps in the flour. Fold flour mixture into butter mixture and then stir through fruit with all the juices.
Mix well to combine. Spoon into cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until cooked. (If you find that the centre is still undercooked, cover the top with foil and continue baking until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.) Spoon/brush extra marsala over hot cake and allow to cool in tin. Keeps for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container and improves with age!